SHEPHERDSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If you think your utility bills are high, listen to this. Two senior citizens are fighting with the Louisville Water Company over a $20,000 water bill. The couple thinks the bill can't possibly be right, so they turned to the WAVE 3 Troubleshooter for help. As Eric Flack found out, mistakes are rare, but they do happen and it's up to you to take action if you don't want to pay the price.
In their mid 60s, Bob and Virginia Frye never had a problem paying their bills until now.
"Trying to get rid of a $20,000 water bill," the couple said with a nervous laugh.
Don't think that's possible? Neither did the Frye's when they first got the bill back in September.
"How do you think I reacted? They're crazy!" Virginia said. "I told my daughter and she said 'mom, the house would be floating down the street.'"
The water company told the Frye's that millions of gallons of water had been used at their rental property on South Fourth Street since 2008. The Frye's said they discovered a busted pipe shortly after their last tenant moved out in early 2009, but said they fixed it and immediately shut off the water to the home.
The Frye's gave the water company rental agreements showing the house had been vacant ever since and thought that was the end of it until a few weeks ago when they got a "final notice" from the water company demanding the Frye's pay the $20,0000 plus late fees or get the water at their own home in Shepherdsville shut off. That's when Virginia Frye emailed us.
"I said, ‘we need help!'" Virginia said.
So I went to the Louisville Water Company to try and get them that help.
"What we have to do is a series of investigative steps to find out what happened at the residence," said Kelley Dearing-Smith, a Louisville Water Company vice-president.
Dearing-Smith said less than one percent of their bills are wrong, but if you think yours is one of them she suggests the following steps:
Call the Louisville Water Company early to address excessive bills.
Work with someone to identify potential explanations like leaks.
If necessary, the Water Company can send out someone out to check the meter and ensure the charges are accurate.
When the water company did that for the Frye's they found out someone at the rental property had been using water until February of this year, long after the last tenant left. The water company is now investigating why the service was still connected and now realize the Frye's may not be entirely responsible.
"The turn off notice should not have been sent to the customer and we do apologize for that," Dearing-Smith said. "This customer is not going to lose water service at their home. That's the bottom line."
LWC is now trying to figure out just how much the couple really owes. The Frye's hope it's a lot less than the charge that's on the account right now.
"I can't pay a $20,000 water bill," Bob Frye said. "I don't think Ford Motor Company has a water bill that high."
To avoid problems in your own home, Dearing-Smith suggests keeping an eye out for leaky toilets which can waste thousands of gallons of water in a single week. To test and see if you're toilet is leaking, Dearing-Smith said put about 10 drops of food color in the tank and let it sit overnight. If you wake up in the morning and there is color in the bowl, your toilet is leaking and costing you money.
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