South Carolina

Water company charged excessive bills — and even blamed a cat, SC lawsuit says

Mount Pleasant Waterworks

A class-action lawsuit accuses a public water company in South Carolina of overcharging customers hundreds of dollars on their bills, blaming leaky pipes, irrigation systems and in one case, a cat flushing the toilet.

The Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, residents said their water bills from Mount Pleasant Waterworks, a town-run water and sewer authority, could jump by hundreds of dollars without warning or reason.

“In one particularly egregious instance, it is reported that MPW’s customer service representative told a customer that the customer’s cat was flushing the toilet and that the cat was causing the customer’s excessive water bills,” according to the lawsuit.

Four residents filed the lawsuit law week in Charleston County and asked to have it certified as a class action for all Mount Pleasant water customers.

The water authority Monday called the lawsuit’s claims baseless.

“Lawsuits of this nature impact rate payers more than one would think. Because a few customers have filed a lawsuit, with no basis, other customers will pay more in their water bills to cover legal and administrative costs. Staff directs countless hours and resources away from our primary mission of providing our customers with essential water and wastewater service,” Waterworks said in a statement.

“MPW has a metering system that can track water usage by the hour. We regularly help customers find leaks before they even know they are there — a benefit that our customers appreciate,” the water authority said.

The lawsuit details four cases where, the court filing says, Waterworks blamed leaks that didn’t exist, charged excessive late fees and promised refunds that never materialized.

“MPW has received and continues to receive substantial revenue and profits from the improper excess charges it bills to its customers,” the lawsuit argued.

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.