Sunday, September 10, 2006

How About This for a Water Bill?

A month ago, my wife discovered water running down the driveway of our house. It was coming from a large hole near our gate which has an iron trap door over it. She tried to lift the trap door but the hole was so full of water that it was creating a suction effect, and impossible for her to lift.

She rang the water company to ask for assistance, saying that she thought there might be a 'fuit' (leak in English) but they were rather short with her, and told her that if the water was coming from our side of the tap on the mains then it was our problem and they couldn't send anyone out. They told her to turn the mains tap and see if the water stopped. She told them that she couldn't lift the lid of the hole where the water was coming from. That, they said, was her problem.

So she called our gardener who came around and levered the lid of. Between them, they then bailed several bathfuls of water out of the hole and turned off both the tap to our house and the tap to our neighbours house with whom we share a driveway. Unfortunately our neighbours tap came off in our gardener's hand as he turned it.

My wife rang the water company again to tell them the tap had come off. This time they had to send someone out.

As it turned out it was our neighbour's pipe that was leaking. We breathed a big sigh of relief at that point.

But then today, look what came through the post! A bill for 3205 m3 of water. That's enough water to fill our house. Twice! And a mere snip at 7777 Euros or 51015 Francs as they kindly point out for anyone who hasn't yet got their head around that new-fangled European currency.

Luckily for us, it's an error. The water company has updated our bill with the reading from our neighbour's water meter. But no doubt it will not be that easy to convince them of their mistake.

It's amazing though that they could send out a bill like this without even batting an eyelid. I don't believe even a leaking pipe could generate that much revenue for them. The bill was accompanied by a forceful letter asking us to settle our account by the end of the week!

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