Water Meter Drama

MDCVisitThe other day someone knocked on our door during the middle of the day. I didn’t expect anyone, so I didn’t answer the door. They went away, but left this little notification for us. It was the MDC, our water company.

They were asking to install a radio frequency meter on our house to monitor our usage. Hmmm. I thought we already had a radio frequency meter on our house, the little purple/blue box that connects down to the water main directly below it in our basement.

Now I was confused. Was this some clever ruse by a thief? Or was the visit legit?

I called the number on the card to try and get some answers. After being placed on hold for awhile, I spoke with a pleasant lady. She explained to me that our radio frequency meter must not be working because they had been estimating our bills. I asked for how long they had been estimating our bills.

She said, “Since October 8, 2009.” And then…


“Excuse me, since October 8, 2009?!?! That’s more than 3 years!”

Yes, it was apparently true. They had been estimating our water bills for over 3 years and our previous bills had a little “E” by the reading number and it asked us to call them because our bills were being estimated. Oh yeah, and there was also a big “ESTIMATION” notification at the bottom of the billing page. After looking back through the bills, some had the estimation notice, while others did not. I don’t know why.

At that point I scheduled the appointment for the service tech to visit so they could install a new meter. But after I got off the phone I kind of lost it. How far off would the estimates be? I took our most recent bill and scurried down into the basement.

The last bill read 417E. You know, for estimated. But the meter has 6 digits on it, and when looking at it, 5 of the digit holders were reading numbers. The number was 045140.

At that point there was a lot of yelling and feeling like I was going to vomit. What kind of adjustment bill are we looking at here? A few hundred dollars? A few thousand dollars? Oh, vomit.

Kyle on the other hand played it cool and said things would be fine and I shouldn’t worry. Hey Kyle, guess what? I’m a worrier!

Fast forward to this morning. The MDC dude shows up and installs the new meter, takes the reading from the old meter, gives us the reading and goes on his way.

Quick! Call the MDC! How much do we owe? The uncertainty is eating me alive!

After a brief holding period Kyle talks to a customer service rep. She answers his questions quickly. Quite possibly because she can hear me shouting and vomiting in the background.

We will owe an additional $86.60. Oh thank goodness. Their default unit is a hundred cubic yards so the extra digits were for that.

The lady on the phone said we were lucky. She’s seen some people have to pay thousands extra because they have a toilet or something that constantly runs that people don’t fix.

I feel like we really lucked out on this one. Lesson learned here that we’ll share with our readers. If your water bill has an “E” next to the reading and says ESTIMATION, give the MDC a call and get your new radio frequency meter reading device installed. You’ll get yourself back on track and hopefully avoid a costly unexpected surprise.

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