Councilmember Roger Berliner is again urging WSSC to look into its billing procedures for a number of Bethesda residents who say they’ve received water bills hundreds and even thousands of dollars higher than normal.
It’s the second time since March that Berliner, who represents Bethesda and Chevy Chase, has sent a letter to WSSC General Manager Jerry Johnson looking for specifics about the apparent billing issues. In March, WSSC said some customers might be receiving more expensive water bills than normal because the winter weather meant delays in meter reading. That meant water bills could include as much as an extra month of water use.
But this past weekend, Berliner wrote that he heard from the daughter of a 91-year-old constituent who claimed she was billed $900 over a three-and-a-half month period. Her typical bill for that period of time would be around $90, the daughter claimed.
“For months, my office has been getting reports of outrageously high bills from the WSSC. For months, we have been working with the Office of Consumer Protection and WSSC Customer Representatives to address these issues on a case by case basis. For months, I have remained unconvinced by the answers your agency has provided to my office stating that these bills are indeed accurate,” Berliner wrote. “How can it be that when customers are being billed hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars higher than their normal bills, your agency maintains there is no issue?”
WSSC Spokesperson Jim Neustadt said Johnson got the latest letter and WSSC is looking into the comments before it can get back to him with any updated information.
The letter also included a list of about 60 customers — most in Bethesda — who have contacted Berliner’s office and the county’s Office of Consumer Protection about higher than normal water bills.
Neustadt said the list includes about 15 new names or WSSC accounts. WSSC previously provided Berliner’s office with information about 44 people who said they had gotten inaccurate bills.
Berliner wrote he’s looking for more information on the billing behind those accounts to “help all of us gain deeper insights into the efficacy of your meters, meter redress, and billing protocols.