Rounding out the trilogy that began with the $3,000 cable bill, followed by the $1.3 million power bill, is the story of an Atlanta woman who has spent the last year trying to tell the city’s water department about her wildly increasing bills — and who now faces a $9,000 bill for her efforts.
It all began last July, the woman tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when her monthly water bill jumped from an average of less than $100 to $497.
“I assumed I had a leak, so I got a handyman to come out and check everything,” she tells the paper.
The handyman gave her plumbing a clean bill of health, so she sent in a $100 payment and filed an appeal, which the city turned down.
But it did send someone out to look at her meter and found nothing wrong.
In December, her bill was suddenly up to $758.
She once again talked to the city and arranged to pay $120/month until the matter could be heard in court.
Once again, the city checked her meter and said all was fine — in spite of the bill jumping up by 750% in only a few months.
And it was only going to keep going up.
Her bill for April came in at $1,155 — plus another $1,430 in late charges for bills she was disputing.
She and her lawyer met with the city a couple weeks later and it was decided that a usage monitor would be installed on her meter and a “leak detection specialist” would be paying a visit to see if they could locate the problem.
Miraculously, the next month her bill was only $175.
But not because the city had figured out the source of the obvious error. No, says the woman, the city insisted that she had gotten the invisible and undetected leak fixed.
“This is absolutely absurd. I have no way of proving I did not get a leak fixed, because I did not have a leak,” she tells the AJC.
Her request for a new meter was turned down by the city.
But whatever magical fix she had done to stop the nonexistent leak has apparently failed, as the woman opened up her water bill the other night and was slapped upside the head with an invoice for $9,224.40 — $6,705.72 in new charges and $2,638.68 past due.
“I had a leak, and if I had gotten it fixed, how would my bill be this high? ” she asked the AJC.
A rep for the city says it’s trying to figure out what’s going on and that a June 15 inspection of the meter found no problems.
June 15 is also the date the city finally got around to installing that usage monitor promised in the April meeting with the woman’s lawyer.
The rep says they will need to wait 30 days before they can analyze the data from the monitor, which means no answers until at least mid-July.
And here’s the kicker.
Even if her appeal is successful, the city has told the woman that any relief to her bills would only be for the most recent two months.
“The longer they put off finding a resolution, the more likely I’ll be saddled with a $9,000 bill,” she says. “If they admit I don’t have a leak, why won’t they just replace the meter?”