CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Division of Water continues to deal with complaints about customer service and tens of thousands of dollars in disputed water bills.
According to 50 homeowners in the Greenwood Village condo neighborhood in Sagamore Hills, the utility has come forward and admitted it was a faulty meter that caused bills in that community to suddenly skyrocket by more than 500%.
Homeowners turned to News 5 after they said they were unable to get an adequate response from water department customers service in requesting a follow-up investigation.
Greenwood Village Condo Association President Charles Pilny told News 5 the water department continued to blame a water leak on the property for the huge increase in water bills.
Pilny said the water department has agreed to what could be as much as $20,000 in water bill refunds or credits.
"I can’t even count the times we called them over eight months,” Pilny said.
“Customer service feels like if they keep putting you off long enough, you’ll go away.”
“There are some issues with customer service and not being able to direct people where they need to be.”
"I’ll tell you, without News 5 interceding and getting us up the food chain a bit, we’d still be stuck with customers service some where.”
The Cleveland Division of Water issued the following statement:
"We have tested the meter, investigated the vault, and determined there are several issues that need to be addressed. We are also proactively taking a look at the vault and meter that provides water to the Greenwood Village Condo Association to ensure it is functioning correctly. At this point, some additional repairs are needed to be completed by the condo association before we can move forward to replace the meter.
The actual refund or credit in this case will not be determined after a new meter is installed and 30 days of readings are completed.
We will continue to work through this process with the residents of the Greenwood Village Condo Association to resolve this matter accordingly."
More customer service complaints were brought to the attention of News 5 from South Euclid apartment owner Mark Khuri.
Khuri said his eight unit building was suddenly given a huge water and sewer bill of nearly $10.000, but when he multiple attempts to get help from water department customer service, he found little help.
He admits his plumber found an intermittent toilet leak in one unit that existed for several weeks, but disputes it should total nearly $10,000 dollars.
Khuri believes a billing issue left him with two accounts, but said the water department never notified him.
He said the double accounts made it impossible to see the increase in water usage due to the leak.
“We just couldn’t understand how something as simple as toilet flapper could end up with $10,000 in water bill,” Khuri said.
“The supervisor never called back, we waited about two weeks, he never called back, so we called the water department again, this time we got a different supervisor.”
“We still have two accounts, it’s very odd, it doesn’t make sense to me, it seems really unfair and we’re the ones that are left to suffer.”
The Cleveland Division of Water has agreed to work with Khuri and issued the following statement:
"Based on our initial investigations, the AMR data indicated there was a leak on the property that began on August 31 and continuously ran until November 20, 2019. We became aware of a toilet flapper leak at the property by the homeowner, which would indicate the type of pattern reflected in the AWMR data. In addition, it appears that there was an issue with notification of when the property transferred ownership. Mr. Khuri did not notify us when his property was transferred to a limited liability corporation. It is imperative that customers notify their utilities when there is a change in ownership to avoid potential billing issues with their accounts. We will continue to work with Mr. Khuri to help resolve this issue."