TULSA, Okla. — An apparent communication gap over a water bill prompted a Tulsa couple to contact the 2 News Oklahoma Problem Solvers.
Velma Haywood says washing the dishes makes her a little nervous after she and her husband moved into their rental home in Tulsa a year ago.
They're careful using any water at all, she says after their first month's utility bill was well over $300.
"I kept telling them, there's no way that could be based on my usage, there's just myself and my husband here, two people in this house," Haywood says.
A customer service representative told Haywood that records showed they were using a lot of water and suggested searching for a leak, or another issue causing their bill to be that high.
When their landlord couldn't find a leak, she says a city representative told her they were charged more than $300 based on the previous renter's high water usage.
"That's not my problem, I shouldn't have to pay someone else's bill," Haywood says.
"That doesn't make any sense to me, it's just not right, but yet they did it."
Paying that first, high bill meant going a month without expensive medications both she and her husband need.
"That we couldn't buy, because we had to pay a $300 water bill."
So Haywood says she couldn't just shrug off that first big bill, even after their service charges eventually dropped to less than $90 a month.
She insisted on talking to someone higher up to get that original $300 refunded.
"The manager said there is a possibility we can do a credit to your account if we can find the errors, but you know we had that data breach recently and that information was lost," Haywood says.
The city had just recovered from a ransomware attack.
Weeks later after not getting any more answers, Haywood contacted the Problem Solvers, and we touched base with the city. Apparently, they were able to find that lost information, because a representative sent us this detailed email about her service.
The city says there appeared to be an issue at that rental property dating back to the fall of 2019.
She and her husband moved in last October and records showed the Haywoods used 15,000 gallons of water during the first 20 days, but the city says it appears after they received that first large bill, the Haywoods may have found an issue and corrected it since they've used less than 3,000 gallons a month since then.
Early on, Haywood says they found that a toilet sometimes kept running, but they didn't think that was enough to increase their bill by more than $200, but at least now they know and don't have to worry when doing simple chores like washing those dishes.
Here’s more information on how small leaks around the house can add up to big bucks:
A small to moderate toilet leak can generally waste 6,000 gallons of water per month and can cost an additional $70 to $100 a month.
A larger leak could double that cost.
As far as faucet leaks, 120 drips per minute can waste 11 gallons a day, and add a few dollars to your monthly bill.
And if you have several faucets leaking, that too, can add up to some serious cash.
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