ON YOUR SIDE: Unusual utility bills could mean meter trouble

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 9:17 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you get an oddly low utility bill in the mail chances are you could have a meter problem.

Missouri American Water Company customer Mary Paddock of Shell Knob says she immediately recognized something was wrong.

“I got a bill for $9.53 I looked at that and said I wish that was my water bill,” said Mary Paddock.

She says she pays an average of $80 a month. So when the lower-than-usual bill showed up she knew something was off. As it turns out the meter at her home was broken. The company fixed it a few weeks later.

Paddock said, “About 2 weeks later I got a letter telling me that my bill is going to be estimated for the 2 previous months. It was going to be $410 and some odd cents. “Why should I pay 200 dollars more than I owe?”

She called the water company to inquire about the high rate.

“They based it on last year. These months that they based it on we had a horrible leak somewhere in the house,” she explained.

Paddock says she elevated her complaint to the Public Service Commission of Missouri, the attorney general’s office, wrote a letter to her senator, and even contacted her local state representative.

“Anybody with any common sense would know that if last year’s bills were twice as high as this year’s bills that you would base it on this year’s bills,” she said.

Paddock says she eventually got an answer.

“They sent me back a reply from the Public Service Commission that explained that this is just how it is because it’s to protect them from people who would damage their meters on purpose so they wouldn’t have to pay their water bill,” she said.

We reached out to the Public Service Commission and received this statement referring to the Senate Energy Commission:

The Commission has rule-setting requirements for a utility’s estimated billing (not a PSC policy but part of the Commission’s rules and regulations under Billing and Payment Standards) which all utility companies under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission are required to follow.

If a consumer is not satisfied with the result of that matter, they can file a formal complaint with the Public Service Commission. If a consumer files a formal complaint, the five-member Commission will ultimately decide on that formal complaint.

Paddock believes customers should not be penalized for meter errors.

“I call it policy, they call it rules. I’d like them to fix this. There’s a loophole here,” she said.

If you have an issue CLICK HERE for information on how to submit a complaint to the state’s Public Service Commission.

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com