Billing woes seem never ending Sometimes the customer can be right

2014-03-03 00:00

WITNESS Warriors has been inundated with billing queries.

The problem still remains with residents being unable to get through to the municipality or, if they do, being sent from pillar to post in an effort to try to get the officials to check that there could be a genuine mistake on their account. Sometimes the customer can be right.

Gillian Richardson finally had a happy resolution to her crisis, but it was not without some severe trauma. Her January bill said she owed R38 234,46. The bill was almost due for payment and she was worried that her electricity could get disconnected.

Richardson wrote in saying she had spoken to five people since February 25 and had had very little success in getting any coherent assistance or explanations regarding her inquiry.

“I have had telephones put down on me,” she said. “I have not had promised call-backs and messages that I have left don’t seem to be have been passed on to the people I left it for.”

Richardson finally got an explanation that did not make sense.

She was told that her meter was “burnt out” in July 2012 and was replaced. “The serial number on our meter is not the same as the one that seems to be on the municipality records,” she said. “Our meter did not burn out in 2012 and neither was it replaced. This meter is in our kitchen and we would most definitely know about this had it happened. The serial number on our meter does not conform to the serial number that municipality has on its records.”

She said that in addition she had regular visits from meter readers and had personally given them readings for electricity and even watched them writing these readings into their ledger. “There are dates of ‘read’ on our paid accounts and yet these readings have obviously not been allocated to this address or meter it seems. Where have these readings gone?

“On February 25, Ms Pam Suberani told me that she was sending an e-mail to Mr Steven Naicker at Havelock Road regarding a memo sent/or received from Havelock Road regarding the replacement of a ‘burnt’ meter at this address, memo number: 3784.”

Richardson said her last contact was on Thursday at 3 pm, from Naicker on his cellphone.

“He seemed ‘unaware’ as to whether he had received any correspondence from Pam Suberani on February 25. Mr Naicker said that he would send someone to our house today (Friday, February 28). It remains to be seen as to whether this will happen.”

Witness Warriors followed up and Richardson said the visit did take place and Naicker confirmed that the meter was not replaced and something was very wrong. Let’s hope that there is an inquiry as to how this happened, because someone else may be sitting with the wrong meter box.

Richardson said the nonchalant and detached way that her problem had been handled by the municipality was unacceptable. “I have been passed from pillar to post for four days now wasting time and money on telephone calls. The response from Mzunduzi has been abysmal.”

Witness Warriors contacted Moses Ngobese, the head of the consolidated billing section, who gave his assurance that the matter would be fully resolved. Ngobese advised residents who have billing queries to send them to: billing@msunduzi.gov.za. He said queries are tracked on this e-mail address and it is easy to trace which staff member has delayed the query.

Richardson’s problem has been solved, but spare a thought for gogo Sibongile Ngubane. She received two bills for January — one saying she owed nothing. She was ecstatic, thinking this was an expected debt write-off coming into effect.

However, a few days later she received a second bill saying she owed R44 000. This query has gone to the billing e-mail address so we will await the outcome.

Illegal dumping

The Ganie family of Mountain Rise called The Witness when they caught someone illegally dumping waste in a vacant site near their home. What emerged from this encounter is that most residents don’t know what to do when they catch an illegal dumper. Witness Warriors asked Msunduzi Municipality for guidelines on what to do and Richard Rajah from waste management provided the following guidelines. He said, “normally having a friendly chat with illegal dumpers sorts out the problem. However, not all situations are normal and one should be careful to avoid a confrontation.”

Rajah advised taking down the vehicle’s registration number and make, model and colour. “Cellphone pictures or videos are invaluable and if possible a picture of the person/s dumping. The images must include the illegal dumping itself, and preferably catching the person in the act. Note the date and time. When, or if, the case goes to court then there is evidence to support prosecution,” he said.

According to Rajah, a criminal charge can be laid at the nearest police station, but the incident must also be reported to waste management. In-progress incidents of illegal dumping can be reported to waste management on 033 292 5359 (switchboard) or to Pius Moseya on 033 292 5380 or 079 620 9234. Moseya is the foreman who handles illegal dumping. He will liaise with other municipal departments such as security or environmental health, which have designated peace officers to go out to the site.

If there is evidence of a new illegal dumping site being started or dumping continuing with impunity on an existing site and there is no sign of the dumpers, you can still do your civic duty and call the above listed numbers. waste management will send officers out to investigate.

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