What is going on with the Cleveland Division of Water? For years, customers have complained about inflated estimated bills, broken meters, and a lack of timely response from the customer service department.
You can add me to that list of disgruntled customers.
My problems began in April 2008, practically the same day my wife and I moved into our house in Seven Hills. Within days, I received a $200 water bill, which made no sense to me because the house had not been occupied by anyone for nearly a year. Naturally, I figured it was a mistake.
After ignoring the bill, I received a “shut off” notice a couple of weeks later. I had to either pay the bill within 10 business days or I’d have to shower at my neighbor’s house. This prompted me to call the customer service department. After waiting nearly an hour to speak with somebody, I was told to pay the bill to avoid the shutoff, but that the bill likely belonged to the previous owner who had an overdue account.
I was assured that the matter would be resolved and that any payment I sent would be applied as a credit toward future use. But I still had to pay the bill! And better yet, I had to pay the bill in person. This resulted in another hour or so of waiting in line at the water department offices in downtown Cleveland.
But with the bill paid, things appeared to be back to normal. Every three months or so I got my water bill in the mail for what seemed to be a reduced rate — $50 or $60 — although I never learned exactly what became of the previous owner’s bill and why I was the one stuck paying it.
I must have a Water Guardian Angel looking over me these days. This angel has recently taken it upon herself to see that I don’t even get a water bill anymore. It’s been an entire year since I received my last one. Heck, I even signed up for the automatic bill payment system online, and the water department still doesn’t charge me.
I really doubt that I should be getting free water. We use a sprinkler system in the yard; we shower daily; we cook; we drink water from the tap; we wash our clothes in a washing machine. Still, I have no answers. Customer service is nonexistent. I called three times in August to ask about my bill, only to be put on hold for more than 45 minutes each time, before the recorded message finally informed me that the computers were down and to call back another time. I’ve also sent several e-mails. Nothing.
The only thing I do get in the mail from the water department are brochures advising me to pay a few bucks more a month to insure my sewer line; apparently if it breaks, I am responsible, not the city. (This actually happened to a neighbor of mine.)
Meanwhile, I’m putting a bit of money aside each month in a water fund, just waiting for the day when I get a whopping $1,000 bill. Until then, the water flows. I’ve gotta run now — my car needs a wash.