Hidden cameras capture Cleveland water meter failure, creating $3,000 customer bill

Cleveland water officials deny widespread failures
Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 23:37:09-05

An exclusive News 5 hidden camera investigation reveals how the Cleveland Division of Water continues to bill a customer hundreds of dollars despite a water meter that is "not properly functioning."

Cosmo Beradinelli says he received a $3,000 quarterly water and sewer bill last November and immediately called the water department asking for help.

Instead, Beradinelli says he was told it was "not a mistake" and that he is being billed for water that "ran 24 hours a day for 3 months."

Read more from our investigation into the Cleveland Division of Water 

Beradinelli knew that was not accurate but it took three months for the water department to check his meter.

"I just kept getting the runaround," says Beradinelli, "nobody was calling me back".

Our hidden cameras captured meter readers informing Beradinelli that "something may be going on with the meter," "the computer itself is saying there are no leaks" and " I can't see how your bill would jump that high".

But Beradinelli says it was only after Councilman Michael Polensek called the water department that a Water Review Board Hearing was even scheduled.

And even then, after the board found "the lack of a properly functioning water meter," it still stuck Beradinelli with an $800 bill.

We asked Cleveland Public Utilities Director Robert L. Davis to explain why so many water customers have had similar complaints.

"That's not exactly true," said Davis. "We've made great strides in this area and we will continue to improve billing. These are exceptions, not the rule".

Yet even though the water department admits the meter is not working properly, he remains stuck with hundreds of dollars for water he never used.

"I don't think they listened. I don't think they were fair."