BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham homeowner Amanda Dukes reached out to WBRC for help when after first noticing problems with her water bill last spring.
“I noticed it a couple of months ago, and I didn’t never think to go check my meter until I saw on Facebook how they’re doing it to other people,” Dukes said.
She says her bills stayed high for a couple of months, then came her July bill.
“My bill is never over $100. It was $288," she said.
It didn’t take her long to figure out the problem: her bill says her meter read 382 CCF, and billed her for that much water use.
But when we went to check it with her, it read 368.
“They said they would have someone come out and re-read it, I asked if they physically re-read it and they said yes, and I asked ‘how can you read it if it’s covered in mud?’ They hung up on me.”
Dukes says she found a door hangar to tell her a meter reader had come back to double check the reading, but when she walked out to the meter, it was still caked in mud.
“I think they should actually physically get out of their vehicle, do their job, and check the meters,” Dukes said. “Not just electronically, but actually physically read it.”
We reached out to Birmingham Water Works, who told us they’re aware of Dukes’s issues and said they would issue her a corrected bill, one she received on Tuesday.
Dukes isn’t the only water works customer we’ve heard from; at least a half dozen customers reached out to us in the last few weeks complaining of unusually high water bills. We asked the water works if they had a systemic problem.
Spokesman Rick Jackson said, “We haven’t had an increase in complaints from customers lately. However, misreads do happen on occasion. The good news is when that does happen, the system can issue a re-read for the meter reader to verify the reading and send the customer a corrected bill rather quickly if the meter was indeed misread.”
Even if her bill is corrected, Dukes now wonders why she had to make hard choices while waiting for this help.
“My kids don’t like it because we have to take money off for other things that we could’ve used to do stuff for them, because we have to pay a high water bill or it gets cutoff,” Dukes continued.