Billing Error Leads to $93K Water Bill for Catholic Church in Ohio

Monsignor John Zuraw was shocked when he learned that St. Rose Catholic Church in Girard, Ohio, was sent a water bill for $93,000.

Luckily, the bill turned out to be an error on the city’s part.

“We must have used $93,000 in holy water,” Monsignor Zuraw joked at Mass.

St. Rose’s wasn’t using more water. The city goofed. Big time.

“St. Rose was just one of the many water customers in the city to experience an erroneous reading due to what city officials said was a ‘software error’ on newly installed wireless meters,” reports.

“Residents, business owners, and clergymen descended on the city’s water department seeking an explanation,” it adds.

Residents and city officials were understandably annoyed with the billing errors.

“It’s growing pains,” said Jerry Lambert, the city’s director of public services.

He explained that the city is replacing manual-read meters with automatic readers, and that the billing issue stems from problems created by the crossover.

A local hair salon received a bill for $11,681.00.

“We were shocked,” said Sherry Lakos-Johnson, owner of Tri-Changes salon. “I knew it was wrong, there’s no way it could be 11-grand.”

She went downtown to sort out the bill.

“There was an old man in front of me, and his bill was $200,” Lakos-Johnson said. “They told him it was an actual reading and not an estimate, but I don’t know.”

The bills were indeed incorrect.

“I actually owed zero,” Lakos-Johnson said. “Nothing,”

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The plan is to replace all 5,600 meters in the city with the new type, which Lambert said will make meter reading easier and billing simpler. The city has already installed 2,000.

The old meters use a different set of codes to the new system, Lambert said. A mistake when entering codes, such as including an additional digit or not entering the previous meter reading correctly, will put out an incorrect reading and a very wrong billing amount.

“We know it’s a glitch,” said Lambert.

“The majority of people have been understanding,” Lambert said. “We do have the correct readings here, so we can recalculate it for them.”

Lambert added that the bills should now be “100 percent correct” by the next billing cycle.

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(H/T: The Consumerist)