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City/Hinesville-charging customers fees-Revised
Last comment by JimmyMack 7 months, 3 weeks ago.

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The City of Hinesville added a 135.00 fee to my neighbors water bill with out an explanation. My neighbors spent the entire weekend reviewing paper-work and pulling receipts from the past year because they had no idea where the charge came from.

Monday morning they made contact with the water department and questioned them about the bill. They were told the reason the bill didn't document the extra charge was because their was no space on the bill to document the reason for the charge. I couldn't believe my ears, you charge a customer 135.00 and do not document the reason for the additional charge! They stated that customers contact their office when they have questions about their bill so not having an explanation documented on the bill was no big issue.

The water department states the reason for the charge is a damaged Radio Read Meter Transceiver Unit (MXU) that was placed on the property which permits meter reading via radio signals. They stated they were not sure how the meter was damaged but felt the owner had damaged it because other homeowners were damaging the (MXU). My neighbors asked for a valid reason and not what they thought happened. However, the City/water department wasn't able to justify why and how the device was damaged. The next day the neighbor received a call from an administrator in the water department- they stated "we believe it was damaged by a lawn mower but were not sure" so you will have to pay".

The City of Hinesville/water department can not bill customers 135.00 without an explanation or evidence that the equipment was damaged by the owner and not weather conditions, wear n tear,a faulty system or the driver getting out of his car trying to fix the equipment and damaging it.

I advise consumers to find out if they have a MXU on their property, why some residents have covers to protect their devise and others don't, and where the devise is located.

Latest Activity: Nov 23, 2013 at 8:54 PM

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sebekm commented on Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 13:02 PM

I think these devices are in our neighborhood because I no longer see any "meter readers" coming around to check monthly prior to the issuance of the bill. Ours are basically underground, in a "boot" which surrounds the device and has a lockable cover even with ground level. When the cover is installed and locked properly, it is flush with the lawn and does not obstruct walking or mowing the lawn.

From what you describe, it sounds like the water company said that the "added" $135.00 was as a result of water usage. Also, I think rather than "a damaged Radio Read Meter Transceiver Unit (MXU) that was placed on the property," you mean that the MXU was supposedly installed UNdamaged, but that the Water Dept was contending that the homeowner damaged it with the express intent of getting free water.

I don't know anyone who has had this problem, but if it were me I'd go down there and raise hell with those people in person. If necessary, I'd work my may up the city hall "chain of command" until I got some satisfaction. Usually - "honesty" comes through in these situations and your neighbor probably has to convince somebody that they had nothing to do with the MXU damage. Hopefully they will dismiss the $135.00 charge.

PoliticsNation commented on Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 13:15 PM

Seb thanks for the feed-back. However, the property owner was accused of damaging the actual devise and was billed for the cost of the meter! They stated the (MXU) devise was damaged. They were billed for their regular monthly water usage and charged an additional 135.00 on top of that. You may not realize it but there is a black rubber devise on the top of your water meter it is the sensor-it does not blend in with the grass/yard. I've attached a picture for your review.

sebekm commented on Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 14:52 PM

Oh, I see.....yes - that's exactly what I have. The rubber device is at one end of the "lid," and the opening for the locking mechanism is on the other. I also re-read your basic blog post and now I get it. Does your neighbor's MXU show the damage (i.e., is the rubber sensor obviously damaged)? If so there may be some way to investigate further and determine the actual cause. If there is no evidence of damage and the sensor is just faulty, they shouldn't be billing the homeowner for that. I would think that the owner could argue "wear and tear" and be absolved of the charge.

Anyway - good luck to them. If the neighbor has no idea of how the damage occurred, I'd still recommend going down there and arguing this face-to-face with somebody who can make it right. You're blog doesn't say whether the neighbor has paid the bill. I wouldn't before I went down there and made my case.

icyman61 commented on Sunday, Nov 24, 2013 at 19:18 PM

This kind of corruption and thats what I call it or maybe some would like extortion better. Is excatly what I dislike about our current governments. Its wrong on so many levels.

gacpl commented on Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 09:01 AM

they could also argue it was improperly installed. it is suppose to be installed on the inside of the meter box to protect it, not on top where it has no protection.

sebekm commented on Monday, Nov 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

The picture is actually the way all of the smart-sensor-meters I've seen are installed. When you turn the lid upside down, there are wires/connections and a support structure that projects downward, so I don't think there is any way they could install it other than the way they have. The top of the sensor really is nearly at ground level - my "lowest" lawn mower setting doesn't even allow the frame of the mower to touch the top of the sensor - let alone the blades or anything that could cause any real damage.

The rubber "plug" you see is supposed to provide the protection, and we've had ours and have been walking/mowing on top of it for several years without any issues. My hunch is that absent any visible damage to PN's neighbor's sensor, it's gone defective and could be argued that way. If there is visible damage, if it were me I'd think about what possible alternative scenarios could have caused the damage (as opposed to ME doing it).

JimmyMack commented on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 11:56 AM


sebekm commented on Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 13:47 PM

Thanks, Jimmy. As Tennessee Ernie Ford sang back in the '50s:

"Another day older and deeper in debt."

(Not really (the debt part), but OBAMACARE ain't helpin' matters any...)

JimmyMack commented on Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 15:54 PM

Yes, I remember the song Sebe.

Some more of the other lyrics went like this: "St. Peter, don't ya call me cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the Company store." The store Tennessee was referring to was the one the Republicans owned. Squeezing every dollar they could get from men working their fingers to the bone for very little monetary compensation.

All done while the Republican owners reveled in caviar and champagne.

The Company Store made fist over hand profits galore. All done on the backs of the poverty stricken. Much like Wal-Mart does now.

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