Water bill makes no cents
Roland Jamieson was confused and amused when he received his August Watercare bill - it was for one cent.
The Henderson man says the cost of producing and posting the document is a waste of money.
"I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it, but then I couldn't figure out how I was going to pay it. I suppose I will have to go down to the post office and pay with eftpos but every time I use my card I have to pay a 50 cent bank fee. I just wonder how much it cost to print and mail it. Being a ratepayer you don't like to see your rates being wasted like this," he says.
"I'm thinking about not paying it but the bill says that if I don't I will incur a fee of $7 or 1 per cent of the total owed. Unfortunately I would get charged whichever is higher," he says.
Mr Jamieson's water use costs for August are $53.76 but he was in credit for $53.75, leaving one cent outstanding. He knows he's luckier than other Aucklanders.
"A lot of people have seen their water costs increase with this new monthly billing system. Times are tough at the moment and some people can't afford it."
Watercare spokesman Daniel Wrigley won't disclose how much it costs to send out the 400,000 bills each month because of commercial sensitivity.
"In this instance the customer's account has been credited due to an over-estimation of use on their previous bill. The correction has left them with a nominal balance. The invoice still has to be sent in order to show the customer their account activity. These instances of billing anomalies will disappear over time as data on customers' monthly usage trends becomes more robust."
Watercare has set up an option where customers can get their bills emailed instead of by post and so far 20,000 people have signed up.
Massey Birdwood Residents and Ratepayers' Association treasurer John Riddell says it is "just stupid" to send out a bill for one cent rather than letting it roll over to the next month.
"I suppose it's nice to know what your Watercare account is sitting at but for the lowest possible amount it's almost not funny. There have been residents receiving bills way too high and and now way too low and I hope they can sort it out. The whole changeover to monthly billing has been a shambles. It means landlords have to chase up tenants every month to get reimbursed for the water bills. When it was every six months it wasn't too much of a problem," Mr Riddell says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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