OUR directs NWC to immediately halt late payment fees
The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has directed the National Water Commission (NWC) to immediately stop charging customers late payment fee on bills for which there are outstanding amounts.
The NWC has also been directed to stop the practice of sending multiple bills within a single billing cycle and have been advised that only one bill should be sent to customers per billing cycle.
Late payment fee is applied where customers initially receive estimated bills but subsequent actual meter readings for the same billing period indicate that consumption was underestimated.
It does not matter if the estimated bills was paid in full.
The OUR says the directive was issued by the OUR on March 31.
It says the NWC has since submitted information on the issues it claimed resulted in the erroneous application of the late payment fee.
But according to the regulator, the NWC says it has taken to address those issues.
It says the NWC has also indicated that it will fully comply with the directive.
The OUR says it is currently assessing the NWC’s response and will make a determination on the way forward.
The OUR’s investigation into the issue of late payment fees came against the background of complaints received from NWC’s customers that the late payment fee was being applied to their accounts although their bills were settled in full and on, or before the due dates.
The OUR found that NWC’s application of the late payment fee in some instances contravened the approved terms for the application of the fees.
In 2016, the NWC advised the OUR that it had temporarily halted the application of the late payment fees.
But the OUR says without saying whether the issues with the programme were completely resolved, the NWC announced through an advertorial on February 26, that it had resumed the late fee charges.