Customers concerned they will have to pay for water company issue

Customers concerned they will have to pay for water company issue

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - People living in a Lexington County subdivision say they noticed charges on their water bills, claiming they were much higher than usual.

"That's just inexcusable. It's water. It's basic water and sewage," said Melissa Goforth.

Carolina Water Services Incorporated sent a notice to affected residents in the Golden Pond subdivision about the issue. The notice is dated October 4th and it states one of its contracted meter readers incorrectly entered consumption readings, making bills abnormally low or, in the case of some customers, too high.

"We've got to do a meter re-read, step one; step two, get a meter test to make sure there's no leaks; step three, call back, complain, and speak with an operation supervisor who may adjust the bill from that point on," Goforth said, a frustrated water customers who's on step three.

Her water bills run from $80 to $100 dollars on average -- until recently. 
"I missed this one but they increased it to $201.34. Here we are $215.22," she said, looking at another monthly bill.
Goforth is not alone. Others say they've called, like her neighbor Lauren Stalvey, in the same boat. The water company said it will address the issue but some customers say they're getting a different story

"They're basically offering payment plans for myself and other people in our subdivision essentially for their mistake, and quite frankly the nerve of the company to offer payment plans for something that was their mistake is outrageous," Stalvey said.

Carolina Water Services said a contracted meter reader was incorrectly entering water meter readings. The person reading those meters has been terminated.

"They're supposed to go on a monthly basis and that's one of the issues we saw in this most recent one that some of the bills were not necessarily being read, but were being estimated," said company spokesperson Robert Yanity.

"I asked them how long did this go on and they couldn't tell me. I asked for a specific date before September 22nd and my meter was last accurately read and they couldn't tell me and they still can't tell me today," said Stalvey.

Since then, several customers who contacted WIS say they've called the company multiple times trying to get those charges reduced or dropped altogether, but they say that's not happening.

"How can we determine an average when our meters are not accurately being read and again, we don't know how long and they can't tell me how much I've used, or how much exactly I would owe," said Stalvey.

For Carolina Water Service, physically checking the meters is the only way they can know how much water is being used. They do not have a system where meters can be remotely accessed.

"That's correct. We do not there are other utilities that do 'smart meters,' certainly something we're looking at in the future," says Yanity.

Yanity says customers who saw unusual charges on their water bills need to call customer service.

"Well they need to call us directly again, we've provided them with a customer service number, call us and we will work with them and we will work with them individually," said Robert Yanity with Carolina Water Service. "Somebody is going to answer their calls. They need to call us and make sure that we're talking to them."

As of Friday morning the customers who contacted WIS said they haven't had their bills adjusted yet, despite their reported calling.

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