water company dishonest?

In March our meter reading was over 1,350,000 gallons!!! The water company did not charge for this month thankfully attributing it to a glitch? (one hell of a glitch)
The next month, April, our usage showed to be over 43,000 gallons (several times higher than it has ever been)! This time the water company is billing us. After we complained a lot now the water meter readings seem to be back to normal but before that they were sky high even after April. (we log the meter readings several times a day) Now the water company company insists we pay up. It is clear we have no leaks (we'd notice this much water leaking and the meter stops when our water usage stops.. we are on septic and the tank is half empty)
Ironically the previous owner of our house was a career water company man, could have even installed this meter as far as I know). The water company also refuses to replace the meter, grumble. The only theory I can come up with is that the water company did something secretly to "fix" the problem. Is this possible? What mechanically could have the water company done to make these changes?
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Tony wrote:

I would want a new meter. They should be able and willing to provide that. I would guess they are run by or at least authorized by some local authority. Try contacting that authority and see if they can get you a new meter.
As for the large April reading. Do you know for sure exactly how they computed it? Many companies don't read the meter each month, but only every other or every third month and estimate the missing months, often based on over all use. That overall use in April could include a lot of lawn watering in some areas. Even if it did not, I would guess they may be thinking you did a lot of lawn watering. It may also be some kind of catch up due to the problem where you may have been undercharged for some months before.
My guess is they are not dishonest, but rather not communicating very well.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Test the meter yourself to see if its accurate . It is usualy measures in cu ft , convert to gallons and use a few 5 gallon buckets to see an amount , run water till meter sets to a new # and test , I tested mine it was accurate. Something like 72 gallons a meter stop. Were your previous readings Estimates. Toilets can leak alot .
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On 22 May 2004 22:40:29 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@wtd.net (Tony) wrote:

Request that they show you how they're reading your meter - in the spring of 95 our meter was way off and I was billed for something like 10x the normal amount. When they did the audit they discovered that the meter reader had driven down into my yard and was reading the meter from his truck, which was roughly 6' away. During this they discovered that the final reading he had taken was way off - our meter hadn't even HIT that amount yet. They adjusted it down.
You can also request they give you a new meter. If the continue to say no about it ask them to put a meter down stream from the existing meter so they can get an idea of whether the meter is that far off. Keep in mind that if your meter is indeed "slow" then they could back charge you. If they continue to say no then I'd call the city/county and find out who sits above them on a govt level that could force them to address this.
On a funnier note our workplace decided to have our utilities audited. Gas, electricity and water were tested. Our water meter was way off and we ended up getting billed for $30,000.00 for 2 years of underbilling. Now we have a new meter in and the water bills are way up and the person who suggested that we get audited is in hot water. :D
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ryeish wrote:
<snipped>

With $30,000 at stake, how did the utility prove that the old meter had been reading low for two years? A Johnny Cochran type would likeky have argued that the old meter might have gone bad two days before they checked it, and the "increased usage" after a new meter was installed was just due to changes in the nature of what the business was doing that required water.
Did they find something wrong with the meter which was unquestionably there "since birth" like an incorrect gear set installed at the factory?
Just wondering,
Jeff
--

Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

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That is exactly what I would have done. I would have asked them to demonstrate how it could not have failed the week before it was removed or not have been damaged during transport.

Me too, an answer like that would be the only one I might accept.

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On Sun, 23 May 2004 12:19:41 -0400, Jeff Wisnia

Apparently they'd done a study a few years back when a neighboring institution wanted to expanded but couldn't because the line running to our both places wasn't enough to carry the increased demand. We had a meter replaced several years ago during this expansion war due to some problems with it (same under reporting issue).
The meter was defective. When they told the facility about it management said they'd get it replaced ASAP, the water dept was already prepping to dig at this time.
They fought the billing but there was some evidence that prevented them from overturning this. I don't think they were emails sent because I would have had to restore them (what a pain in the butt) but possibly other correspondence.
The water authority is now auditing all large business meters to see who is "cheating" the system. I wonder if none of this would have happened if the guy who wanted to save a few $$ had tried other things like low flow shower heads and fixing the army of running toilets first. :P
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Had a similar situation. The water company finally found out that the meter reading was X 10. The reader missed that for a number of years. Talk about sticker shock!!!! Ed
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Have you had any water outages in your area? A friend had this same problem following water outages. During the outage, they left a valve or two open, and the meter "spun" while air was running through the system. I know it doesn't make sense, but it did happen. Getting the local municipality to write off the huge water bill was a real nightmare for them...
KB

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In many places, water meters are now read electronically. Each meter has a small transmitter and it's read by a truck driving up the street and polling the meters as it goes. Driver never gets out and never sees your meter. That could be the glitch.

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