After a Maryland woman received an outrageous water bill, she tried to get it corrected, but instead, she was threatened her service would be stopped.
Diane Shoemaker, who has lived in her Kensington home for more than four decades, understands billing mistakes are common, but she was stunned when her Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission bill jumped from the neighborhood of $100 to thousands of dollars.
“I get two bills in the mail, separate envelopes, and each one was a little over $3,000,” she said.
Her water bill is normally around the same price every month, she said.
“I think around $98 to maybe $120, something in there, and I’ve been here forever, and it’s never been higher than that,” she said.
She called WSSC to let them know about the mistake, but instead of getting an answer, she said she was passed from one customer service representative to another.
“Since then I've called three or four times, talked to different people,” she said.
She was told someone would review it, but soon after, WSSC called her to tell her they were going to cut off her water.
“Got a phone call saying, ‘You're behind on your bill, and we're going to cut off your water Feb. 2,’” she said.
Shoemaker was told to pay $347 to avoid the water being turned off. She paid it immediately, but that didn't stop the outrageous bills from coming.
“I wasn’t getting anywhere,” she said. “They weren't calling me back. All they were doing was threatening to turn the water off.”
WSSC told NBC4 Responds Shoemaker’s meter was replaced in September. Prior to that, according to a company spokesperson, "There were inconsistent readings, which triggered our system not to bill until accurate readings could be determined."
As a result, Shoemaker went an extended period of time without receiving a bill, and WSSC determined she "was qualified for the billing adjustments."
Her new balance was $60, ending months of frustration and worry that her water and patience would run out.
“I have been working since October and haven't gotten one phone call back,” she said. “Give the information to you the beginning of the week, and two days later, they've reduced my bill from $7,000 to 60 some dollars. You can't beat that.”
Shoemaker's meter was 16 years old, WSSC said, and they did replace it. The average life of a meter is roughly 30 years. If you suddenly stop getting water bills, contact customer service to see whether there's an issue with your meter so you're not surprised months later with a mega bill.