Sunday, January 24, 2010

CMUD Customers Stage Revolt

The Charlotte Observer has a long piece in Sunday's paper titled Customers Feel Soaked By Water Bills detailing how insane the billing process at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Utility Department has become.

CMUD has become another one of our nation's "too big to fail" and to big to operate efficiently companies. This is just one more indication that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Gov-Co is out of control.
I own a dozen duplexes around Charlotte. Last fall I had a 27 year old single mother of 2, call me in tears because her Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department water bill which is normally 39 dollars was suddenly 143 dollars.

CMUD explained that her meter had been "under read" for the last year and that she hadn't been paying the correct amount.

Struggling to make ends meet even on a good month she was suddenly faced with a choice of paying her water bill or buying groceries for her family.

My personal experience is that if your meter stops functioning CMUD just makes a guess, in other words your water bill has nothing to do with your water use. Because of tiered pricing this is a total rip off.

The biggest problem I see with CMUD is that the people who take care of the hardware and supply the water are not connected geographically, administratively or in a chain of command with the customer service - billing people.

The Observer story notes that CMUD customer service "was dismissive" of course that is being polite. I'll just say if I could get my hands on a couple of the people I've talked to over the years I'd be in Raleigh in a small cell.

Of course CMUD is in denial. But based on the numbers reported in the Observer story and the average "over charge" amounts reported, CMUD is stealing about $100,000.00 a month from your neighbors. The sad thing is most of them will never complain.

Without any recourse your best defense against CMUD a trip to Home Depot for a seven dollar water valve tool so you can turn your own water back on.

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