Family avoids $2,600 utility error
Published 9:38 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Imagine going to the mailbox and finding a water bill for almost $2,600.
One city of Elizabethton utility customer found that surprise waiting for her a couple of weeks ago.
Brandy Maney received a bill for $2594.92 for one day of water and sewer service on the week of Thanksgiving. The bill was for service provided from Nov. 12 to Nov. 13.
Maney, who had just relocated to her new home on Washington Ave. said she had just had the water turned on before receiving the bill.
“I just started laughing when I seen it,” she said. “I thought I am not paying that.”
Elizabethton Utilities Director Johann Coetzee said the mistake came from a computer error.
“This was a very interesting case,” Coetzee said. “The computer had the prior meter reading as zero, instead of what the prior usage actually was.”
Because the prior usage was at zero, the bill was calculated for all of the usage that had traveled through the meter.
Because Maney received the bill the week of Thanksgiving, offices were closed when she tried to contact them on Friday. She said she left a message for someone to contact her and then posted pictures of the bill to Facebook.
Coetzee said after a city employee was alerted to the post on Facebook, the employee logged into the payment system on Saturday to fix the issue.
“On her own initiative, the billing clerk went in and fixed the problem on a holiday weekend,” he said. “We didn’t want to have a customer upset all weekend when we could have it fixed.”
The clerk emailed Maney to tell her the problem had been corrected and that a new bill would be mailed to her when offices opened on the following Monday.
The new total for Maney’s bill was a much more reasonable figure. For one day of service, the billed amount was $17.94, and after a $15 credit from a previous transaction, Maney was left with a balance of $2.94.