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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

CVRD office and meetings re-opening to public

The office has been closed to the public since March 17 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

NIC’s Metal Fabrication program returns to Campbell River

Metal fabricators build, assemble and repair products made of steel or other metals.

Courtenay development proposes expanded pub, condos

Courtenay council gave second reading Monday to a development application for a… Continue reading

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

North Island College president to retire next year

North Island College’s president and CEO has officially announced his plans to… Continue reading

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

Most Read