Meter dispute

Glynis Stamp, Bothasig

I bought a house in Bothasig, as it was all I could afford and the rates etc were low as I had just gotten divorced and was living in a palace in Milnerton with a huge swimming pool.

It was a big change for me. I am 63 years old and do wine promotions when there is a call.

In September last year, the municipality installed a new water meter, and, when I drove up to the house, they were filling in the tar in the road. I asked what they were doing, and their reply was that they had installed a computerised water meter underground. What? This is crazy. The next thing we had no water, and I have someone living in the back of the house.

We were without water till 4pm. Everything has been fine until I received my account for August and this during the winter months: water was R605.73; the total bill being R1629.88.

I spoke to a Mr Okkers on various occasions, and he came around to do checks on the meter. He said the meter was correct.

I didn’t believe him and said I would take it further. I phoned Goodwood municipality every day, and the woman said she would pass on the message. She said I should phone Ludwick, who never returned my call.

I then phoned Freddy Karstens, the area manager and he said there is no way Mr Okkers can check if the water meter is working correctly. It has to be taken out and sent away and it will cost me R1 300. How am I meant to pay this? His reply was that they will add it to my bill. Is this man serious?

Then I received a second bill. Now the water is R845.07; the total being R2091.31.

I phoned Mr Karstens again, as he promised to call back but never did. I told him I was going to write a letter of dispute.

He replied, “No, don’t do that, I will sort it out for you.” I am still waiting to hear from him.

I mentioned I am very worried my water would be cut off . He didn’t reply. I haven’t watered my back garden in months, I take most of my washing to the laundry, I only wash up three times a week as I live alone.

The tenant only sleeps at the house and buys take-away food.

I have pictures of my dying plants and the sand I have instead of grass. This is very stressful and the municipality doesn’t care.

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, responds:

The City replaces meters once the ageing meters reach the end of their lifespan. This is to ensure water consumption at the premises is being measured accurately.

There is a standard procedure followed when a query of disputed consumption is raised. Firstly, a control reading will be performed to see if the reading is in line with the billed reading. The team will also check for any obvious problems with the meter.

This appears to have been performed from when analysing the communication. If the resident’s bill is not in line with the perceived consumption, it could be because there is an underground leak on the plumbing.

If she would like to check this, she should switch off all water in the house, wait half an hour for the geyser to fill, if it has been used recently, and take a reading at the meter. The resident should then wait for a few hours and see if the meter continues to turn. If so, there is a leak, and she should arrange for it to be repaired.

Private plumbing on private property remains the responsibility of the owner.

The City offers a rebate for underground leaks. Should a leak not be identified, the customer has the option to apply for a meter test.

The fee attached to this is for the removal of the meter, transporting it to the test bench, and for performing the test.

If the meter is found to be faulty, the testing fee will be reimbursed, and the account will be averaged.