City of Toronto water meters – fail

• June 26, 2013 • Comments (0)

My email to MPP Jaye Robinson (just slightly paraphrased, as at least one of my kids reads my blog) says:  ”The fact that the city of Toronto’s water meter installer cannot find their (rear end) with both hands and a flashlight is not my issue.”   See, I got a letter from the City of Toronto threatening to hit me with a $50,000 fine for not upgrading my water meter.   I’m not a big fan of threatening letters, and hmmm, I thought that water meter guy was at my house in March.  Sure enough, down in the basement, there’s the City of Toronto tag with the brand new shiny serial number.  So I called up Neptune Technologies, who is the installer, and read them their own number.   The call center person said that yes, they had upgraded my water meter, and then said I had a second meter on the property (likely tied to the sprinkler system), which had not been upgraded.  Two things:  1)I’ve lived here 12 years, and have never seen a second meter, and 2)If there was a second meter, why not upgrade it AT THE SAME TIME as you do the first one?   That would save the taxpayer time, and the city resources.  Maybe that’s too logical.

Neptune (AJ, in the call centre) said it was the city’s fault, as the work order the city sent them only indicated one meter.   And, they’d have to book another 4 hour window for the tech to come out and do a second call to look for the second meter.   And, if they couldn’t find the second meter then, they’d have to book yet another 4 hour window for a supervisor to come out and look for the meter (now we’re up to 12 hours of my time).   I emailed Jaye, and got a response from her and her assistant Cindy, so I phoned up Cindy and explained.   Cindy was quite empathetic (thank God for real people who don’t just read from a prepared script) said she’d get somebody from the city of Toronto water department to investigate.   Meanwhile, I phoned Neptune and asked for the president.  Got put through to Steven, who said that he’d be happy to send out a supervisor at the same time as the installer, so we did not have to complete the exercise of having to book yet a third appointment if they could not find the (likely phantom) second meter.  He also said he could see from his data that the second meter was outside, so they would not need to have me wait for 4 hours for them to show up – I only had to open my backyard gate.  Eureka.  Steven, thanks for helping out the customer – the taxpayer.

Then, Bill from the city of Toronto water dept called me.  He said he’d done some research by calling the billing department, and it looked like there was a dormant “summer service” (that’s what they call it) account that was opened when our house was being demolished and then rebuilt (we bought it almost new in 2004), and then for some reason never closed by the city when the main water account was activated once the house was completed.  He apologized for the city’s error (thanks, Bill, for being a real person and not reading from the script, counts for a lot in my book).  So, on July 9, an installer, Steven, and Bill are all coming to my house .   As Bill instructed me, we’re going to turn on the sprinkler system, then shut off the main water valve in the house.  The sprinkler system will then not work (I’ve already done this, so I know), so we will then all be sure that the second phantom water meter does not exist.  Bill will close the second phantom water meter account, and all will be well.  Meanwhile, I’ve spent over 10 hours on this issue, so far.  Assuming 10% of Toronto’s  4 million people have some issue with the city that they will spend this amount of time on, and assuming an average hourly wage of $40…Rob Ford, I’ve just found the $149 million we need to close the budget gap Sousa just sprung on us!!

My thanks to Cindy, Steven, and Bill for being real people who pick up the phone , are accountable, and solve problems.  I wish there were more of you in Canadian government.  Canada is a mediocre country on the world stage partially because its citizens tolerate mediocrity.  Canadians are much nicer than Americans (I am a dual US/Canadian citizen who has lived more than a decade in both countries), and they don’t complain as much.  If we’re going to give 46% of our paycheque to the Canadian government, we should actually get services for it.  Hold the government accountable.  Complain.  Present the simple facts.   Maybe then we’ll get our money’s worth.


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Category: City of Toronto

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