As water bill complaints continue, city officials hold meetings for customers

As water bill complaints continue, city officials hold meetings for customers

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On Monday night, the City of Columbia held the first of four d rop-in meetings to give water and sewer customers a chance to ask questions, learn more about the billing process and meters, and learn how to read their meters.
The meetings were announced after a series of stories WIS did revealing complaints of customers' bills jumping by hundreds or even thousands in recent months.

Irmo resident Ira Pinto is the latest to complain. She says she's lost count of the number of times she's waited in line to speak to customer service or reached out by phone.
"It's unfair. It's incomprehensible. Their accounting is very sloppy," said Pinto.

For 10 months, she's gone around and around with the City of Columbia about a $1,500 water bill for one month of service. 

Normally her bills come in under $100. Most months, her meter readings show she's used 10 to 15 units of water. But in December, when she was charged $1,500, the reading showed 150 units were consumed.
"It just doesn't make any sense," said Pinto.
When we asked we asked if the city was aware of an increase in complaints, Deputy Administrator for Customer Care Denita Rucker said no.

 "Only thing we're doing at this time is to give them the opportunity if they have any questions, they can maybe ask those questions when they come in," said Rucker.
Pinto says it's not enough.
"It's my word against their word. And they tell me, 'We sent somebody, they read the meter, those were the figures they found,' And that's the end of the story. They refuse to accept that it could be one, a human error; or two, a meter that's outdated or a malfunctioning meter," said Pinto.

The city's d rop-ins will be held in the lobby of 1339 Main Street in downtown Columbia. It promises to hold one a month through February 2017.

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