Turning on the news, this morning, it was no surprise that there is an uproar about Baltimore City overcharging it’s residents for water usage. I had this problem a year ago, and it took the threat of a lawsuit, e-mailed to the Baltimore City Solicitor (the City’s attorney) to get anything done. If you want to see the complaint I used to get the City’s attention, click here.
In fact, shortly after I resolved my problem, the Baltimore Sun reported that Public Works Announces Water Meter, Billing Overhaul. We can see how that worked out…. WBAL reported on the systemic problems a year later, which include stories of overcharging to some, and no charging to others. The City admitted that it has overcharged residents to the tune of $4.3 million.
To the customers of Baltimore City’s Water and Wastewater Utility:
This audit is one of many steps taken by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to assess and address the many complaints and concerns we have received regarding water billing and customer service related issues. Baltimore’s Bureau of Water and Wastewater serves more than 1.8 million customers regionally, manages more than 400,000 residential accounts and approximately 12,000 commercial accounts. In addition, the Bureau supplies 265 million gallons of drinking water and treats more than 250 million gallons of wastewater daily. We are working aggressively to ensure all of our customers are receiving accurate and timely water meter readings, bills and any necessary adjustments to their bills. While the results of the audit represent only a portion of the total accounts Baltimore City manages, we are taking these audit results seriously and have an aggressive plan already underway to improve efficiencies and customer care.
The Bureau has completed the analysis of the 70,000 accounts that were the subject of this audit and are confident that all adjustments have been processed and entered into the billing system. Many customers have already received adjustments and refunds to their accounts and the remaining customers will receive adjustments within the next billing cycle. To ensure we are addressing any additional concerns our customers may have related to this water audit, or any other related water billing concerns, we are initiating an option for you to call 311 or enter a 311 service request via the web.
If you would like to know if your account was part of the recently reported Audits Review or you have related questions you may utilize our 311 system via telephone or email effective Friday, February 24, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. A representative of the Water Billing division will respond to your inquiry within seven business days to let you know if your account was part of the Audits Review and if an adjustment has already been made to your account.
To expedite responses to your questions and concerns please have the following information available when you utilize our 311 system:
- Telephone Number and/or Email Address
- Account Number and/or Billing Address
Thank you for your patience as we work to improve the quality of service to all of our water utility customers.
My advice? File a lawsuit now. They will try to placate you with promises of investigation and statements that “we’re looking into it,” but my experience was that nothing got done until I took action. File the lawsuit, and, at the same time, try to resolve it by talking to the City. Click here for the complaint I used when I had problems with Charm City water bills (your situation may be different, so don’t rely on it for your own complaint). If you have questions about this, or any other legal matter, please contact me at 443.850.4426, or online.