Sky high water bills still hitting customers due to billing blunders

High bills hit customers

Fighting For You continues to get calls from Birmingham Water Works customers concerned about huge bills. Friday one caller complained about $360 bill. It looks like it's going to be March before these billing errors are worked out. The Water Works managements blames the issue on a new computer system and software. Customer service is swamped with calls, leading to long wait times.

"I'm living on social security; I don't have money to pay it," explains Harold McRae. He is one of countless customers hit by incredibly high water and sewer bills over the past few months. His balance stands at $1,000 for November and December. "I can't get anything straight. I am passed from one person to another when I call," worries McRae.

He believes the bill spiked after work on nearby utility lines damaged his plumbing which he repaired. But that's also the same time the suspect bills started showing up in mailboxes in November.

"We needed to be out in front of this. These things said to the board should have been said to people back in December," remarks board member William Muhammad. Board members say the lack of communication with the public has compounded the issue and more staff needs to be in place asap to assist customers trying to figure out what they owe. "Hire an army of people to get down to the center and answer phone calls," says Muhammad.

Each bill has to be handled individually to determine the problem. In some cases the bill includes an extra week leading to a small spike. But in other cases like Mcraes', the charges have quadrupled.

You can request a call back from the water works online, to avoid the wait time on a call. We're told your account will be put on "hold" status, until the credit is issued. Remember, you must also apply for an adjustment with the sewer board for that portion of the bill.

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