Hank pays a visit to Everett City Hall after finding the water department overcharged hundreds of people millions of dollars! What’s going on? Could you have overpaid a water bill? Did your money go down the drain? Hank Investigates.
Harriet Reynolds cut back way back on water. She stopped using the dishwasher in her Everett condo.
Harriet Reynolds: “I’d say turn off the water!”
Stopped using her washing machine.
Harriet Reynolds: “Turn off the water, please.”
And restricted her family to two minute showers.
Harriet Reynolds: “Don’t you know the high bill?!”
High bill? Her quarterly water bill was $14,000!
Harriet Reynolds: “Sometimes I would go to bed at night thinking oh my God, this bill, this bill, this bill.”
She complained to the Everett Water Department, of course, and was told: It’s a “mistake.” They cut her bills to a much lower amount. But we wondered, How many other families complained of water bill mistakes?
The mayor’s office emailed us: “unknown.”
Unknown? Not for long. Using Everett’s own records, we discovered over the past three years, the city’s been flooded with complaints!
Like Mario—his bill was $5000.
Mario: “I was shocked, my jaw dropped.”
And Van’s was $28,000!
Van: “I feel like it’s not fair.”
Our investigation found hundreds more people complained, and bottom line the City’s “adjusted” nearly $3 million in mistakes!
Hank: “But wait a minute, those refunds are only to customers who complained. How many people just paid their incorrect bills?”
The City emailed us: “This is impossible to answer.”
Michael Widmer, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: “It’s utterly indefensible to do this, there can be no explanation.”
SO how does the city explain it? Officials emailed us that they were installing new meters–and ”The city has no further comment on this matter.”
Hank: “Is it unreasonable for me to ask this question?”
Michael Widmer, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation: “It’s totally reasonable for you to ask, and it’s totally reasonable for them to reply. This is a public issue and they have a public responsibility.”
So we went right to the top, the Mayor’s office. We were told “ the mayors schedule is full” and they’d call to set up an interview. They never did.
And there’s even more, while these three homeowners were fighting over their bills the City charged them hundreds of dollars in interest! Only after they complained and after we intervened was that money returned.
Mario: “It’s hurtful, it’s upsetting, it’s just not a good situation.”
So did you pay a ridiculous water bill? Better check, or your money could be going down the drain. If you think you were overcharged, call the city’s water department, and let us know too.
If you have a story you want us to investigate please email: TellHank@whdh.com