New maths by the NWC?

Letters to the Editor

New maths by the NWC?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I write to share my encounter with the National Water Commission's new maths.

It started when I got May's bill, which was abnormally high. In fact, it was more than twice my typical bill. Naturally, seeing such a high bill alarmed me. The truth is, I usually look at the amount due and pay it without scrutinising the actual bills. This time, however, was different.

I called their contact centre on June 2, 2020 and on two other days. The experiences with the contact centre personnel were good, and I learnt that the bills for March and April were estimated but the current bill, May, was an actual reading. From the exchanges I realised that the amount shown as due on the current bill included an element, “recalculations of estimations”, that was just under $9,000.

Before I say any more, I want you to keep in mind two things. First, both the meter readings and the billed consumptions are in “000” of litres. Second, traditional maths is hereafter called old maths.

By way of full disclosure, one of the contact centre representatives offered to explain the “recalculations...”, but I did not pursue it as I assumed that all was correct.

As time passed I started to question my assumption that the NWC had correctly billed me. So I called the centre again and got the previous actual meter reading (3724 litres) and the current meter reading (3861 litres). Now, the difference between both meter readings gives the actual total consumption of 137 litres for the three billing cycles. This means that if I use old maths to add the two estimated consumptions of 27 litres and 33 litres for March and April, respectively, to the actual “current consumption” of 77 litres for May and this gives a total of 137 litres, then I know that NWC has billed me in full for the three billing cycles. So, barring human error, and assuming basic competence, there is no rational reason for me to expect that NWC would add any “recalculations of estimations” to my bill.

However, NWC, being itself, added a recalculations of estimations to my current consumption of 77 litres.

Let us now use old maths and add the two estimated bills for March and April to May's bill. Add: 27+33+77=137 litres. This sum is exactly the same as the actual consumption for the period, based on actual meter readings. So which kind of maths did NWC use to add almost $9,000 to my bill? Did they use new maths? Am I the only customer who was subjected to NWC's new maths?

Hugh Beckford

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