Local woman slammed with shocking water bill caused by 'under-billing'
For months, Action News has been hearing from frustrated water customers hit with bill shock. The Las Vegas Valley Water District said changes were on the way that would cut back on complaints. But customers are still getting slapped with big bills. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- For months, Action News has been hearing from frustrated water customers hit with bill shock. The Las Vegas Valley Water District said changes were on the way that would cut back on complaints. But customers are still getting slapped with big bills.
Zenaida Mendoza, a local resident, said she panicked when she saw her latest water bill.
"I was shocked when I saw my bill for $465," Mendoza said. "It was about to be paid through my bank, because my bills are automatically bill pay."
Mendoza said she didn't want to see that money pulled from her bank account until she got some answers. She rushed over to the water district in person.
"He tried to explain to me, but it wasn't an acceptable explanation to me," Mendoza said. "Because he's saying they revised my bill."
Confused, Mendoza emailed Contact 13 for answers. We spoke with J.C. Davis of the water district.
"In this particular case, there was intermittent zero consumption," Davis said.
That means there were months when Mendoza was actually being billed for zero water use. It's a problem Contact 13 has investigated before, called "under-billing." That's when the electronic device that reads your meter doesn't properly show how much water you're using. When it's discovered that a customer wasn't properly billed, the water district comes to collect.
As far back as January, customers have been speaking out about unexpected, large bills.
Back in April, Contact 13 spoke with Water District General Manager Pat Mulroy about this very issue, and she promised it was being resolved.
"We have fixed our computer system on the billing end, to where people aren't going to be getting zero bills anymore," Mulroy said.
But that's not what viewers are telling us. When we paid another visit to the Water District, we were told the fix started a couple months ago, but is still a work in progress.
"Realistically I think you're always going to have something that's going to happen," Davis said. "It's just like our computers, the systems aren't perfect."
Customers like Mendoza are not happy. It turns out her water meter wasn't being read properly for an entire year.
"I don't feel that I'm being treated right. Why should I be penalized for their errors?" Mendoza said.
So Contact 13 asked, why are customers the ones held responsible?
"It's like your bank accidentally putting $200 in you account. You don't get to keep that," Davis answered.
Right now, Davis says the system is catching about 75 possible cases of meters not being read properly every month. But he tries to put the numbers in perspective.
"Because there's 350,000 plus service accounts. So again, they're very small percentages," Davis said.
But for customers like Mendoza, she says she feels she has no other choice but to pay up.
"What can I do?" She asks. "It's very, very upsetting."