City billing headache

2018-06-04 16:00
Local businessman Solly Essa holds up his utility bill after working out that the municipality had charged him almost R1 000 extra on his tow bills.

Local businessman Solly Essa holds up his utility bill after working out that the municipality had charged him almost R1 000 extra on his tow bills. (Nhlanhla Nkosi)

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There appears to be no end in sight to the frustrations of Msunduzi’s customers with the City billing department, which seems to be in a state of perpetual chaos.

Businessman Solly Essa (73) is one of the many to have found this out to his cost when he recently went to the municipal offices and demanded his utility bill after not receiving it for months. After reading it, he realised that the amounts listed did not add up.

“I totalled all the charges on the utility bill of my store and worked out that the total should have been R1 464,02 but instead it’s R2 228,18. When I totalled the bill for the place I rent out it added up to R1 594,47 but the municipality charged me R1 807,69.”

Essa was charged more than R977 extra but with no explanation of what the additional amounts were for.

“I always pay my bills in full and discovering that the City charges me money that is not explained baffles me. How many other people are being robbed by the municipality, they know that we are busy people and hardly look at the single charges and add those up,” said Essa.

When Essa went to the municipal offices last week to inquire about the extra charges, he said he was sent from one counter to another without getting an explanation. He eventually gave up and left but plans to go back again on Monday.

He said after discovering the unexplained extra charges by the municipality, he will be going over his previous municipality bills and will be sure to check his future bills thoroughly.

“If you wake up early in the morning to work and make money, it is not easy to sit back and allow people to rip you off. I definitely want my money back,” said Essa.

Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the customers should go to the municipality’s customer services office to inquire about their accounts and an explanation will be provided.

“We are not in a position to discuss matters pertaining customer accounts in the media,” she said.

However, businessman Salim Haffajee said the City officials at the A.S. Chetty building are not helpful when customers go there about billing queries.

“They spend their time chatting on their cellphones instead of helping members of the public and when you finally get their attention they become arrogant,” he said.

Haffajee said the ratepayers are becoming fed up with the City’s inability to send out a team to read meters. He said the estimations are always wrong because meter reading is not done for months.

“We’ve had enough of their incompetence. We want to be billed according to consumption and not what someone thinks we should be paying. It’s becoming a real annoyance,” he said.

Ngcobo said the relevant department within the municipality has been made aware of Essa’s account query and will liaise with him directly after he was not assisted at their municipal offices.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  utility bills

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