Real estate agent’s warning on costly water bills
A well-known real estate agent is warning Ipswich residents to monitor their water meters as major suppliers allegedly rip off unsuspecting customers.
Frustrated and concerned, Full Circle Property Management principal Karen Wellen took to social media on Thursday, revealing what she said had become a consistent issue.
Mrs Wellen said she frequently encountered inflated water bills in her line of work.
She herself has also fallen victim to multiple billing errors, recently copping almost $500 in incorrect fees under Urban Utilities.
On average, quarterly invoices for her Alexandra Cl home at Flinders View cost between $500 to $550 for four people.
"Our water bills have always been quite high, we used to have a few adult children living here but now, we've only got the two teenagers here"
"One day I was sitting in my office at home and saw the water meter guy come and read our meter, so I thought I'd go out there and take a picture myself."
Fortunately, it appears her efforts have likely prevented possible headaches in coming months.
From 20 January to April 19 last year, she and her partner Ken received close to an $830 bill.
"I thought it was quite high, so I checked my photo for reference and found out the bill was incorrect," she said.
Mrs Wellen was later issued a credit of $311 following her dispute of the bill.
She said it appeared Urban Utilities used a manual process to report meter readings.
"Surely the company has a program or technology that they can use to take a photo of the meter to register the information," she said.
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Unfortunately, some of her tenants had encountered similar issues after a broken water meter meant they had not been charged for several months.
"I was worried they were going to hit my tenant with a lump sum bill because of their own mistakes," she said.
"I tell them to take photos and double check like I do. I've even told my neighbours."
"These are big companies; you might expect a small business to make these mistakes."
Urban Utilities spokesperson Rebecca Schrauf confirmed on Friday the reporting of meter readings was a manual process.
"We have procedures in place to prevent misreads, however it is a manual process so there is
potential for human error," she said.
The company is also investigating circumstances surrounding Mrs Wellen's misreads.
"We're really sorry this issue has occurred and we've adjusted the account for the property at Flinders View to provide a credit."
Ms Schrauf said Urban Utilities identified a "very small number" of misreads annually - less than one percent of total meter readings.
"These are corrected as soon as we become aware," she said.
"To maintain accuracy, the hand-held devices used by our water meter readers alert them if the reading entered is significantly higher or lower than previous account periods."
"We encourage everyone to know where their water meter is and to read it regularly to monitor their water use and check for leaks on their property."
Customers who believe they recieved an incorrect bill should contact Urban Utilities immediately.