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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    11

    Default Can a Water Company Charge You for Third Party Damage to Your Water Meter

    My question involves a consumer law issue in the State of: North Carolina

    My water company recently sent me a bill for a new water meter, according to the bill, due to damages. I went by and talked with the manager to see why I was billed for this when I did not damage it, and in more words or less, told me that was their policy regarding issues such as these. I have no reason to believe I damaged the meter, as I am always careful mowing around this (I never drive over it with my mower) and it would take deliberate action for me to drive over it with my car due to the trees I have at the end of my driveway. He had pictures of how the meter was found and even showed me the meter itself. The casing to it was damaged, as he stated. The bill seems fair for the work performed, and they seemed to even have neglected to bill me for the usage during the time the meter wasn't working (the bill I got this period was about 1/3 of a normal one), but do I have any responsibility to pay this? Obviously they can strongarm me into paying by threatening to shutoff my water, but are there any protections offered to me as a consumer to prevent being billed for this? I am almost positive the damage was from the state mowers who mow the right of way in front of my house, however, I have no way to prove this now other than my own recallections. What am I to do to prevent anyone, especially a state vehicle, from operating within the public right of way and driving over my meter box? From my perspective, its their equipment in the public right of way, I cannot do anything more to prevent this from happening, and have already preformed my due diligence to protect their equipment. Someone please explain why I am wrong so I can stop arguing with them. Thank you for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    Generally, your contract or city code spells out where your liability begins. Generally, it is at the main line tap based on my knowledge. Therefore, it is in fact your bill, unless your situation is uncommon. Some utilities cover to the entrance to the meter, in which case again it would be your responsibility. On the other hand, they would have the option to replace a meter they felt was malfunctioning due to normal wear at their own expense. This is not normal wear.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    Thank you for the prompt reply. So, I have a responsibility to replace their equipment when someone else breaks it? I'm just confused on how this works legally. The manager said there was nothing in writing in the contract to spell this out, and I cannot find any county codes regarding the matter(I'm not in city limits,outside of a very small town). I don't understand how its their equipment, not located on my property, they maintain it, and I have a duty to protect it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    18,302

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    There's really no way for strangers on the internet to speculate about your situation.

    You have the option of refusing to pay and seeing how it goes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    Sorry if my questions rubbed you the wrong way, I just don't understand my liability in this, or how I could be perceived as negligent. I didn't think I was asking for speculation as I assumed my arrangement is fairly standard affair, and I doubt this is the first time this has happened to anyone. The only answer I have received in every case has effectively been 'thats just the way it is' and I guess if there is no more to it then that then its true. I suppose if there are no protections in place for this, then they can charge me for whatever they feel like. I'm sure I know how refusing to pay will go. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    It is not that you rubbed him the wrong way. You added information making this an abnormal situation. We really have no way to assist you, because your circumstances are unique. You should see if you can discuss it locally with a lawyer free.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    Only that it wasn't spelled out anywhere I could find? I'm sorry, legal issues are so far over my head. I suppose it can't be dumbed down enough for me to understand so I'll just pay the bill and stay an ignorant consumer. Thanks for your help guys!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    16,441

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    Quote Quoting Paulman9
    View Post
    Only that it wasn't spelled out anywhere I could find? I'm sorry, legal issues are so far over my head. I suppose it can't be dumbed down enough for me to understand so I'll just pay the bill and stay an ignorant consumer. Thanks for your help guys!
    I do not know how much money is involved, but you might consider talking to your homeowner's insurance agent about it to see if it would be covered under your policy. If its less than your deductible its not worth it, but otherwise it doesn't hurt to ask.

    For the future, you might consider mowing the right of way yourself, so that the city doesn't need to do it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    It wasn't about the money, and the bill was only $112, I just don't understand why its my bill to pay for their equipment. I suppose what makes my situation different than most in the area is my yard has no ditch to stop anyone from crossing their vehicle into where my meter box is. Not sure what to do about that, but I suppose thats not a legal issue really. I don't really know exactly what information is relevant to this to help you guys even answer this for me. And as far as the state mowing the right of way, my yard was mowed, I always mow that space right up to the pavement. I still have tracks in my yard where they drove on the back side of my mailbox, they had no reason to be in 'my yard' mowing. They seem to come around once a year to mow (everywhere, not just my yard) regardless. Anyway the only common denominator in this discussion every time I have it is me, so I assume at this point the failure is in my logic. Anyway, thanks for the tips!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    17,019

    Default Re: Water Company Bills for Third Party Damage to Water Meter

    In my neck of the woods we put ornamental boulders in front of places we do not want vehicle to stray on our property if it helps.

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