Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply appears to be in more disarray than I thought.
First, the cover letter, undated, address to “Valued BWS Customer.”
According to the letter, BWS “discovered situations where some bills were being estimated when, in fact, actual meter readings were available. For some customers, this may have occurred for more than one billing period.”
The letter went on to say that some people will end up owing more, some less.
Then there are recalculated bills attached “based on actual readings taken from your water meter.”
In our case, there were nine pages of bills for the periods beginning December 15, 2012 and running through August 27, 2013.
Remember they claim these are “based on actual readings.”
If I read the bills correctly, we end up owing an additional $163.51, but it took a bit of paper shuffling to figure out how this was calculated. That’s doesn’t seem particularly burdensome for the nine billing periods.
But there are huge red flags.
First red flag…although supposedly based on actual meter readings, our monthly meter readings were 16,000 gallons per billing period (usually about a month, give or take a few days, except for the first period, which was six weeks) from December 2012 through the end of April 2013. I have no idea how much water that is or if its a reasonable amount for us to use. But it seems odd that the use is so steady, despite differences in the number of days in the billing period, and whether or not we were traveling for a portion of the billing period.
Second red flag…from April 25 forward, the monthly use abruptly fell to just 3,000 gallons per billing period. Remember, they say this is from actual meter readings.
And it has remained exactly 3,000 gallons per month through the end of August, again regardless of the number of days in the duty period.
There’s nothing we know of to account for the dramatic 81 percent decline in measured use.
Something just doesn’t seem right.
And there’s more!
Third and perhaps biggest red flag…there’s a special note in the cover letter:
Special note: If you subscribe to Automatic Bill Payment (ABP), and each individual bill shows an amount due, then you can expect to see multiple deductions from your ABP account.
Fair enough, except that the series of bills carries a running total, and it’s the running total that shows up as the amount due.
So if, as the letter says, their automatic system is going to deduct each of the monthly “amounts due,” then it looks like we will be vastly overcharged, setting in motion a long, drawn out process to try and recover the excess charges.
Oh, but don’t worry.
Just call the BWS and “one of our helpful Customer Service Representatives will be pleased to assist you….”
Except that their customer service system has totally collapsed, telephone access is impossible, and promised return calls are never received.
Are heads going to roll over all this?
Also see: What’s going on at the Board of Water Supply? September 9, 2013.