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.