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

OPINION: Downtown needs more than just a plan

A champion needs to come forward to continue momentum on Keremeos downtown plan.

Three calls, two fires, half an hour

Oliver Volunteer Fire Department was kept busy Thursday evening

Spirit Ridge rebranding to Hyatt Hotels

First resort in Canada to join Hyatt’s exclusive Unbound Collection

Regional district meeting gets heated

Accusations of a director bullying and threatening staff surfaced

Thunderstorm rolls into town

Both the Okanagan and Shuswap region are anticipating a thunderstorm with strong winds, Thursday.

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

Outspoken Mountie assigned to admin duties for refusing to shave goatee

The 15-year veteran of the force said he believes the RCMP is targeting him

Recycling pays off for Penticton man

Recycle-It to Win-It contest winner is from Penticton

Most Read