Sunday: Columbia water charges unfair

April 21, 2013 

— I recently re-leased an investment home I own in Irmo, and received the usual monthly water bill from the city of Columbia. I called to follow up on the transfer of service to the new tenant and was told that the paperwork was complete, the meter had already been read and my final bill was already in the mail.

Because the house had been vacant, the bills had been running $19.20, which covers the residential fee, fire fee and hydrant fee. Imagine my surprise when I received the final bill, which covered barely a week, and discovered that I was charged an additional $19.20 for those six days of service.

I called again, sure that there had been a mistake. I was informed that the city does not prorate any water fees, and that if I have access to water for even one day, I am obligated to pay an entire month’s fees. I asked what fees my new tenant would be paying, and was informed that he, too, would be paying the entire $19.20, for the same month period that I would also be paying for.

When I said I didn’t think that was fair, I was told: “I didn’t say it was fair; I just said that’s how it is.” This is unethical and clearly double-dipping, and I think Columbia should buy a calculator and learn how to prorate. I would never dream of asking my tenants to pay a full month’s rent or a full month’s utility expense if they occupy the property for only six days.

Carol Lanese


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