Meter reader accused of guessing bills

Image source: Wikimedia/City of Durham

April 21, 2010 3:55:40 PM PDT
Many residents living near the campus of Duke University got a shock when they opened recent water bills.

"Our bill says it's for $433. It says here our previous bill amount is $94.08," explained Andrea Dwyer.

"I opened the water bill and it was $230," said Robert Healy. "They're about $80 in the winter and $100 in the summer, so this was a surprise."

It had to be a mistake they thought.

"My husband thought that maybe we had a leak, and so he was out here, I mean he was really puzzled. He probably spent a good two hours on it checking the water meter," said Dwyer.

But it wasn't the meter.

"There's really no good explanation," said Durham Deputy City Manager Ted Voorhees.

Voorhees says for four months, one of the city's newest meter readers decided not to do the job all the way. Instead of reading all the meters he was assigned to, on some of them, he just guessed at amounts.

Residents are now getting the right bills to make up for the mistake. Some overpaid, and some will be paying dearly.

"I mean, for us to have 300 extra dollars to put towards our water bill just seems crazy," said Dwyer.

The city says they will work out payment plans for residents like Dwyer. The meter reader who caused the chaos was fired.

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