Have I mentioned my issues with our gas, water, and sewer utility before? Well, I’m about to!
These people suck. Seriously.
Here’s a list of the issues we’ve gone through with them over the past eight months.
First, our builder did not drop any grass seed until the week that the water line was supposed to be connected. They had a firm date from the utility – this was the week we reached a deal to buy the house – and leveled the torn up ground and then covered it with seed. They also planted some small bushes and ornamentals. And then the water line did not get put in. For 10 days. When it was crazy hot and dry.
Thus, our yard looked like shit all summer, more weeds than grass because all that seed had died. Which, you know, whatever: unless you’re laying sod you figure it’s going to take a couple seasons to get the yard in good shape. But, still, would have been nice for the first summer not to be a total waste. The bushes held on, only because our builder came over every night and watered them until we closed.
Next, when we opened our account with them we signed up for all the easiest stuff: budget pay so our bill only changes once per year, auto pay so we don’t have to think about the payment going through, and paperless billing so we don’t get a bill we won’t really look at. Each month I got an email with the amount due and confirmation that that amount would be paid on date X.
Well, we never went online to look at our bill until deep into August. When we did, we found that A) they hadn’t been checking our water meter and B) they hadn’t switched the sewer service to our name with the gas and water. We actually discovered B because we got a message from the accounting department at our builder that said, “Hey, dumbass, get this fixed.”
So I call and talk to a few people, several of whom seem befuddled that our gas meter would get read but not our water meter. Finally I reached someone in the meter reading department and he knew what was up. “I bet,” he said with a hint of ‘Ah-ha!’ to his voice, “that your meter got covered up when the landscaping was done. I’ll send someone out to locate it, uncover it, and you should be good.”
In October we got a bill that, sure enough, appeared to be for about three months of water. All fixed, right?
Well, no. See, the thing is, our water line comes in from under the main street our house sits off of. And they put the water meter way out by that street, roughly 200 feet from our house. I don’t think it was ever buried; the meter reader just looked around our house, couldn’t find it, and gave up. In fact, when I first called they said he had marked it as “Behind fence.” We have no fence. Anyway, I found it by following a straight line from where the line comes into our house to where they tore up the street last June. There it was, painted blue by whoever had come out to locate it.
In November our gas meter was read, but not our water meter. Now, sometimes a meter won’t get read because of the weather. So, dumbly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and another month. Oh, and our November bill was estimated based on our previous month’s bill. Which, you may recall, covered three months of service. So we were billed for three months of water/sewer in November.
December was going to be correct, right?
Once again, no water meter read, we were billed for another three months of service.
So I hop on the phone and work my way to the right people again. The guy I spoke with in the meter reading department couldn’t have been nicer. When I told him how high our bill was because we had been billed for, basically, six months of water in two months, he promised to send someone out that week to take a new reading and said to call back in a week to get an updated bill. He also, allegedly, put notes into “the system” that would let the readers know exactly where our meter was located.
You will no doubt be shocked to learn that when I called the next week to get an updated bill, no new reading had taken place! In fact, the lady I spoke with said the man who informed me there would be a new reading and a new bill “never should have said that.” Oh, goodie. She reviewed our account and said we should have gotten some kind of notice from them that the meter was not readable, but since that letter was never sent, she gave us a credit of $150. She was very nice, and I hoped this would be my final call.
Just to be safe, when meter read day rolled around in January, I took no chances. I cleared the snow off of our meter. I put a big, bright orange, yard stake next to it. And I put a poster board sign next to our gas meter that said the water meter was located behind the big tree, marked by a stake. And then I hoped for the best.
Miracle of miracles, they actually read our damn water meter in January! All that estimated use got backed out and we went from a $550 balance to a credit balance of nearly $200. I sent thoughts of thanks out to the folks that had helped us.
Last week was meter read day. I put the sign out again. I made sure the yard stake was still by the meter. Saturday I got the email saying our bill was ready. You probably never would have guessed this, but they didn’t read the water meter! And in order to do the estimated read, they had to go back to our last read. Which, if you’ve been following closely, you will remember covered three months of use. So we’re back to up a $500-some balance.
I was not getting back on the phone and sitting through hold music, then bouncing around until I was connected with the “right” person again. I went to the website and looked for some other way to send in feedback. I found a page that you can add comments and submit them. I carefully typed out the whole history of this disaster and pasted it into the text box. When I tried to hit Submit, I got an error message that said “Comments may only contain letters and numbers.”
WHAT. THE. FUCK.
My message didn’t have any weird symbols or ancient ruins in it. I took out the dollar signs where I noted what we had been charged and tried again. Nothing. I Find/Replaced every punctuation mark with empty spaces. Goodbye periods, question marks, and commas. And good grammar, for crying out loud. But, again, no luck.
Over in the corner of the screen there was one of those annoying “Need Help? Let’s Chat!” buttons. I clicked on it. “Sheryl” said she’d be glad to help me. Since I knew she was just the front door, there was no way I was going to lay out the whole story. So I just told her about the issue I was having with the website. After a pause her response was, “I’ll let IT know. Try again in 30 minutes.”
OHHHHHHH, FUCK YOU “SHERYL”!
I was literally banging my desk as hard as I could with the palm of my hand. All we want to do is pay the appropriate amount for the water we use. Should it really be this hard?
I guess I’ll try again in 30 minutes. And next month, on meter read day, I might set up a chair next to our gas meter and wait for that motherfucker to come and force his lazy ass to walk out and check the water meter too. I have a baseball bat. I’m tall. I can be intimidating.
BTW, the house next to us remains for sale. There was an open house yesterday and we strolled over to take a peek, since we knew they had staged it for this one. As we walked up the driveway, I saw their water meter, also 200 feet from their house. If anyone ever buys that house my head will literally explode if they have a perfect water bill their first month there, and each one after.