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‘It’s not that bad’ - NWC admits to incorrectly charging some customers $250 late fee but rejects claim it’s raking in millions

Published:Sunday | April 17, 2016 | 4:00 AMArthur Hall
An NWC customer displays her bill outside the company’s Marescaux Road, Kingston 5, office, where she had gone to make her payment.

The National Water Commission (NWC) has admitted that it has been incorrectly collecting a late fee of $250 from some of its customers even as it challenges the story published by The Sunday Gleaner last week, which first reported this unfair act.

According to the NWC, based on its checks, approximately one per cent of its customer base is assessed for late fees ($250) after receiving recalculated bills.

"As was stated in the remarks attributed to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the NWC is aware that some customers who receive recalculated bills are affected by a problem that exists in the payment incentive module," the commission said in a release responding to the story.

"Having identified the problem, the NWC acknowledged the issue to the OUR and advised that it is working to have the problem corrected, at which time all customer accounts negatively affected by the problem will be retroactively adjusted," added the commission.

The state entity claimed that it has already identified and made manual adjustments to more than 460 accounts affected by the problem.

But that represents a fraction of the 4,816 recalculated bills which the NWC said incorrectly attracted the late fees last December. This would give the company just over $1.2 million, which it should not have taken from its customers that month.

INCORRECT BILLING

The NWC numbers also show that it incorrectly billed this late fee to 4,375 customers in January ($1 million), and 4,672 in February ($1.1 million).

"This is not the same as customers who received estimated bills, but rather a fraction of the estimated bills. Furthermore, not all recalculated accounts with late fees are actually charged the late fees in error," said the NWC.