Shock over R98k bill

2019-03-15 14:29
Trish Foster holds up her ridiculously high electricity bill yesterday.PHOTO: Ian Carbutt

Trish Foster holds up her ridiculously high electricity bill yesterday.PHOTO: Ian Carbutt

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A Bellevue woman got the shock of her life when she opened her monthly utility bill to find that she owed the City over R90 000.

Trish Foster said she was left “shocked and confused” when she received her end of January utility bill by post three days ago to find that she had to pay Msunduzi Municipality R98 393,74 as opposed to the R2 000 to R2 400 she normally paid each month.

“You can’t tell me that two people living in a small house can rack up the bill to close to R100 000. I am a teacher and even our school’s utility bill is not that much,” she said.

Foster said her recent utility bills had been a little bit more than what she normally paid so she had decided to pay just above her average costs.

Her R98 000 bill has four different charges for “Domestic-2” with different water readings. The last water reading indicates that 1 747 000 litres of water was used.

“I always e-mail the municipality my water meter readings. They have never gone drastically high and I don’t have any leaks, so I really don’t know what to do,” she said.

Foster said she has tried to call the municipality on several occasions, but their phones rang unanswered.

She claimed that her neighbour’s bill also went up to about R40 000, and when another neighbour went to the municipal offices to query a similar matter, they were told to “pay the amount and we will query it later”.

“To me that just sounds like a threat. This is ludicrous. I had to read the total amount again just to make sure I had read it right the first time, I just don’t believe it,” she said.

Foster said she understands that it might be a technical glitch or human error on the municipality’s side, but raised concerns about the City’s efficiency in fixing such mistakes.

She would continue paying her average utility bill amount, she said.

Foster is not the only one experiencing Msunduzi billing problems.

Commenting on The Witness Facebook page about the matter, Dion Wayne Scannell said: “December account was R2 800, January account R3 360 and February account R3 900. When my account used to be R1 600 for just water and lights, no rates. It’s crazy. You try to call but nothing. You go there and they say they can’t help.”

Yashica Ramjathan said: “I was billed for reconnection fees when my lights were not even disconnected.”

Julia Norman said: “Ours showed R300 000-plus owing, then a negative similar figure, and a larger than usual amount owing in total. They also charged us interest on money we don’t owe them!”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the meter was over-read in January 2019 but added that the error has been resolved.

“In February 2019, the account was corrected and credited. The balance on the account now is R114,10, in credit,” said Mafumbatha.

She said the reason the readings were high was because “these readings are captured onto the account so as to inform the consumer of a possible leak, rather than estimating the account and the consumer is saddled with a huge account in the future”.

“We appeal to the customers to come to the inquiry section or call us when there are any queries they have on the accounts. They can also e-mail us on billing@msunduzi.go.za”.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality
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