A photo of a Surrey condo’s water meter. The building was overcharged by the city for thousands of dollars. (Photo: Submitted)

Surrey condo overcharged $4,500 on water bill

Resident urges others to check their water meter against actual bill

A Surrey man’s jaw dropped when he opened his condo’s water bill this year.

It was a whopping $14,000.

“It was just shocking to me.”

The number seemed extremely high, so James Nicholson ventured down to the building’s basement to find out their actual water usage.

Nicholson discovered his 57-unit condo’s actual running grand total on the metre was 76,175 cubic metres. That was in late April.

The bill issued by the City of Surrey in February was for 79,086.

“That’s 2.9 million litres of water they were off,” he said. “We’re not talking a small percentage.”

It turns out they were overcharged more than $4,500 and the city has since corrected the error.

An April 21 email from the city says the bill was adjusted “as per the reread,” which Nicholson said is in reference to the picture he took of their meter.

“We had to do our own investigation to discover this area,” he noted. “Of concern is that they did not send anyone to our residence to read the meter and verify the readings when we raised our concerns. They ended up coming in late June or early July to read it for our most recent bill.”

But here’s the kicker — the strata paid the inflated bill one day late and were on the hook for a fine of nearly $460 on the correct amount as a result.

“We had to take out a loan to pay the $14,000 water bill,” Nicholson told the Surrey Now-Leader Thursday morning. “We just couldn’t afford that. If it was the proper amount to begin with we would’ve been able to pay that bill.

“Charging us a penalty because we didn’t pay their inaccurate amount?” he questioned. “And we paid the inaccurate only one day late.”

Nicholson said the strata called city hall repeatedly asking for the penalty to be waived, and were shot down every time.

“They say, ‘Nothing we can do, nothing we can do. We almost never refund any penalties.’”

After the Now-Leader inquired to the city about the penalty, it was revealed they had just decided to waive it.

“It’s been escalated to our management just as of yesterday,” Kam Grewal, Surrey’s manager of finance, told the Now-Leader Thursday afternoon. “It just came to my attention in the last couple of hours.”

The city will be “reversing the penalty,” he assured.

Grewal said the original meter error was made by a former contractor.

“I know there were some issues with the former contractor,” he noted.

Typically, the city will refer to the meters instead of estimating, said Grewal, but explained there are exceptions.

“Sometimes we will estimate if the weather’s bad or the contractor cannot read the meter,” he said. “Usually they are checked, as long as they’re accessible and visible and weather permitting.”

The decision to reverse the late charge was welcome news to Nicholson.

But Nicholson wonders if other buildings are being billed in the same way and urges everyone to “check their meters themselves and compare it to their bill.”

“How many other condos are just paying and not looking at their reading?”

He added: “It would’ve been great to just get an apology,” for the “grossly inaccurate bill.”

amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Just Posted

Houston introduces Change program

Program offers lifestyle intervention to patients with metabolic syndrome

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Property sales up in Houston in 2017

Average selling price of single-family homes has also increased

Alexandra Park, undeveloped wonderland

Alexandra Park is located behind the Houston Leisure Facility at the end… Continue reading

Public’s help needed with tick survey

Tick infestations can directly impact the survival rates of moose

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

Animal protection group urges B.C. vet association to ban cat declawing

Nova Scotia was the first Canadian province to ban declawing

Barenaked Ladies, Steven Page, to be inducted into Canadian Music Hall of Fame

Canadian band to get top honours at 2018 JUNO Awards

B.C. out of the running for Amazon’s next headquarters

Toronto is the only Canadian city left in the running despite the province backing Metro Vancouver’s bid for new Amazon headquarters

B.C. hockey player nominated for Hobey Baker Award

Myles Powell is a forward at Rochester Institute of Technology

Post interest rate hike debt tips

What to do about your debt and mortgages after the interest rate hike

Foreign workers sleeping in Alberta Burger King basement

Alberta Health Services said its inspectors found foreign workers sleeping in the basement of the Lethbridge restaurant

Court application halts release of bread price-fixing documents

Bread price-fixing documents won’t be unsealed Thursday, Loblaw says

Pharrell and N.E.R.D to headline NBA All-Star halftime show

11-time Grammy winner Pharrell and his hip hop-rock band N.E.R.D. will headline the halftime show at the 2018 NBA All-Star game in Los Angeles

Most Read