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Water meter mix-up has Nashville customer paying $1,800

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A mix-up over water meters will have a Metro water customer paying dearly for a mistake she didn't make.

It all started when a homeowner worried about a suspiciously high bill wanted Metro Water Services to take a look. When they did, they discovered a problem that now has a neighbor paying dearly.

For what she pays for water, you might think Bonnie Reinhart runs her faucet 24/7.

"It's over $150 a month extra, over and above our water bill and our other utilities," she said. "And that's, you know, that's just kind of hard. I don't know how they could have let it go on as long as they did and not catch it sooner."

A letter and spreadsheet from Metro Water Services spell out a problem dating back several years, when workers installed automated meters.

"The contractor, when they brought the information back to us, either the information they provided us or when our representatives entered it into the database, unfortunately, the meter number and the customer's account and address number were swapped," said Metro Water Services spokesman Sonia Harvat. "So, the neighbors were actually being billed for each other's water use."

State law allows Metro Water Services to back-bill Reinhart for three years, totaling $1,800.

"I don't understand how that can happen," Reinhart said.

It's tough to swing on a fixed income.

"They owe us more than just 'I'm sorry,'" Reinhart said.

Metro Water Services will give Reinhart three years to pay off what she owes.

And even though it wasn't her mistake, she still has to pay, partly because of policy and partly, Harvat said, for fairness' sake.

"You know, it was water that was used. And we must bill for water used. If she doesn't pay, the neighbor pays or the community pays," Harvat said.

It proves the point that you must always watch your bills.

Because it was a clerical problem, Metro Water Services acknowledged a similar mix-up could happen elsewhere.

If something doesn't seem quite right with your bill, Metro Water Services will inspect.

And although this will cost Reinhart about $1,800, her neighbor who reported the suspicious bill received a similar credit for what he previously paid but didn't use.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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