Friday, January 29, 2010

It's a miracle! CMUD admits mistakes!

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 1:54 PM

I bring you good news of a miracle! The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD), historically one of the touchiest, most thin-skinned governmental service agencies on the planet, has now admitted that they’ve caused problems for customers. If you’ve ever tried to get CMUD to admit to a mistake, you’ll know what a miracle it is that CMUD Director Doug Bean came out from behind his curtain today in the daily paper.

CMUD has come under heavy criticism lately for overcharging customers, mostly through inexplicable price “spikes.” Bean, though, downplays the extent of the spikes, even as he’s admitting there’s a problem. “Sometimes we make a mistake,” Bean says. And, you know, it just takes too darn long to research all these high bills we’ve been sending out in the middle of a deep recession, so come on, we’re sorry, but give us a friggin break. No, those aren’t Bean’s exact words, but they would have been, if his prose had properly matched his tone.

And from the tone of this blog post, you can probably guess that I’m one of the people who’ve had problems with CMUD. At our house, we’ve seen incredible pricing spikes during the past two summers. In 2008, like an idiot, I thought I could call up the county and get things straightened out. I mean, surely our bill couldn’t really go up in one month from our average, around $50, to nearly $300. Oh yes it could, I was told, people are watering their lawns this summer and bills are high, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Except that we don’t water our lawn. Ever. Which went in one of CMUD’s ears and out the other. They never did send anyone, or do anything. This past summer? Same damned thing. About $50 one month, nearly $300 the next two months. And the month after that? A sudden swoop down to around $20, as if we'd quit showering or washing stuff. Was CMUD trying to make up for overcharging the two previous months? Is their meter reading equipment that screwed up? I don’t know, because like others I know, I gave up trying to get anything other than a runaround from CMUD. Which is why I’m grateful that enough people have called the utility on their billing problems that it may actually do something about them.  I guess miracles happen.

Self-portrait of the writer, circa July 2009
  • Self-portrait of the writer, circa July 2009

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