Rico’s TICO BULL – Have you checked your water bill lately, other than just paying it? If you haven’t do so. If you dd you must have noticed that despite your lowered water consumption, the bill still high?
That is because the Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AYA) – water and sewer utility – since March 20, has stopped reading the meters located in each house or business premises, as an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, not wanting to expose its employees doing field readings.
That means that all this time, the Aya used their default formula for water bills based on the average user consumption of the last 12 months.
This formula is applied, for example, when a user complains of a high water bill in the current billing period. The utility examines the previous usage providing the consumer an adjusted bill.
Now, this may be to your benefit, with the staying at home more water is being used, yet not being billed for. But, it may not be for the user who, say has used more water in a billing period or two, due to a leaking faucet or toilet, watering the garden more than normal or what have you.
Complaining – that is filing a complaint – is of no use since the utility would apply the same formula it did to produce your current bill. And you cannot go backward, that is have the AyA adjust your extremely high bill for January, for example. No, no, you had to have filed a complaint then.
Your next bill, however, may be more realistic to your consumption as the AyA resumed, as of May 14, reading meters.
But wait, I can see a problem, the meter readout show the consumption for the last 2 months, yet you have already been billed. And most likely paid it.
“In the event that the actual consumption in that period is different from that billed by average, the difference will be reflected in the following receipt from the user,” the AyA told the Q.
Do you trust the utility? Best not. Look closely at your next billing and put in your claim if you were affected.
Don’t just not pay it, for despite the AyA directive not to suspend water (cut) your water service during the national emergency, the data indicated that between March 20 and May 14, it made 1,798 reconnections throughout the country, most of them after payment of the current bill. It has also formalized 876 payment arrangements.
The AyA director or guideline does not eliminate the obligation to pay for the service, nor does it imply the forgiveness of past bills, hence the importance of making a payment arrangement if you can’t pay due to the pandemic.
And don’t just wait for next month’s bill, as I said before, the AyA has a policy of only accepting and adjusting claims for the current billing period. There are exceptions to every rule and you may get an adjustment, but don’t bet the farm on it.
In my personal example, years ago, when I rented a house in Rohrmoser when one month my water billing went through the roof, almost doubled. When I complained, I was told that the high amount was due to an increase in commercial water and sewer rates. What?
I discovered that the landlord had used the house as an office, and as such the water service was based on commercial rates. Before the increase, the water bill for big house in San Jose seemed normal. But went it went to more than double.
The end result I got the service converted to residential, after providing evidence the house was not being used for commercial and my water and sewer bills were more than half of what I had been paying for years.
When I asked about a rebate or refund for what I believed was their mistake, I learned about the differences in billing, how to read the bill correctly and yes, I could file a complaint, hire a lawyer and go up against the AyA. In the end, I sucked if up to experience.
I did get my revenge years later, when the old house I was renting in Santa Ana had an internal leak. The bills for a couple of months were 20 times normal. The Aya said I had a leak – I didn’t, I had already repaired it.
They sent an inspector. He wouldn’t come in the property, I had dogs. They sent another inspector, a month later. Same thing. Finally, now in the third month, they had no choice but to adjust my billing and to save face made a symbolic change of the meter.
For any billing query or request to adjust the current bill, you can contact the AyA by way of the 800 REPORTE phone line (800 737 6783), email to email@example.com, WhatsApp: 8376 5103, website www.aya.go.cr or visit the local AyA office to where the meter is located.
Thanks for listening.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.