A New Jersey couple was shocked to receive $6,601.35 for water and sewer services that used to cost $150 every three months, and appear to be keeping a portion of it.
Marisela and Luiz DaLomba told nj.com they received a letter in February notifying them of the debt. They called the water and sewer department in East Brunswick, NJ to clear up what Marisela thought was an error that “would be easily resolved.”
He later received an email explaining that a remote device outside the house started slowing down since 2014, which equates to years of inaccurate readings. The problem of a malfunctioning transmitter was realized after the city installed a new meter in the home’s basement in October 2022.
“This is normal with any device outdoors: over time, extreme weather conditions, etc. and ultimately the reason for the meter change program,” an official wrote in the email. “However, the device inside his home was working properly and recording water usage, which was therefore taken into account when the meter was changed.”
The city reportedly made the couple an “offer”: $4,735.31 spread over the course of a year.
However, the DaLomba say it is still “too much money,” insisting they should not be blamed for mistakes made by faulty city-operated equipment.
“To demonstrate my good faith, I have already submitted a payment of $220, but what they are doing to me is wrong,” Marisela said.
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East Brunswick Business Manager Joseph Criscuolo told NJ.com, “Owners are expected to check their meters to confirm the accuracy of the bills.”
According to Criscuolo, only one other family has complained about billing discrepancies since East Brunswick began its meter replacement program last year.
More than half of the 17,000 meters in the town have been replaced. Homeowners are encouraged to check to see if their bills are “actual” or “estimated,” then check their meters to avoid such problems.