New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board Bills Man Over $106,000!

This wasn’t the first time Ed Graf had dealt with the Sewerage and Water Board (SWBNO). One time he’d been over charged by $55. Nor is this the first time the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board overcharged someone. Big Easy Magazine has seen bills by customers being charged thousands of dollars extra. However, this one is a first for us with a water bill over $106,000!

Graf was a teacher, administrator, coach, and counselor at Isidore Newman School for 46 years, now retired since June 30th. At this point, he probably thought he’d seen it all, but when a bill for that much comes in, I just have to ask, “So there’s no logical explanation for this? It’s not as if you regularly refill an Olympic size swimming pool?” To which I only receive silence from him.

So, what happened? Well, according to Graf, “Wednesday evening I received an email from SWBNO that my bill was ready.  I opened my account; thought I was seeing double and saw that my bill for the 35-day cycle was $106,623.53 and it was due on Thursday (yesterday or it would be 117,160.10). It was so egregious that I showed it to my wife and we both laughed.”

It’s good that Graf took it in good humor. However, from Big Easy Magazine’s own experiences speaking to people, humor is not how most of them have been handling it.

Graf continues, “It was about 9 pm so I figured that I would call SWBNO in the morning.  In the meantime, I posted the story on Nextdoor site.  I soon got some responses on Nextdoor —some horrified and some funny.”  At 8:45 am yesterday I called SWBNO Customer Service and after a few minutes got a gentleman on the phone. I explained the situation, he audibly gasped and looked up my account and said there must be an error and he would send it to the billing department and then would review it and get back to me.” 

Graf adds, “Thursday evening I decided to email all of the city councilmen, knowing they have been involved in trying to correct the problems of SWBNO.  Yesterday morning I got a call from SWBNO saying that they were opening an investigation of my case, that I would get a new bill and that I should pay what I usually pay each month.  I asked when I would hear back and he said he was not sure but that I should feel free to call him on his cell phone in a week or so.” An entire week could have passed where Graf was still being bill over a $100,000. Fortunately, it worked out better than that for him.

Graf continues, “I then received emails from staffers in both Jay Banks and Joe Giarusso’s offices who said that would be contacting SWBNO on my behalf.  I then got an email from Joe Giarrusso asking if I could send him a photo of my bill which I did. Around 11 am, about 35 minutes after sending my bill to Joe Giarrusso, the same gentleman from SWBNO called me again and said that they have made an adjustment and my new bill was $149 and some cents. Then Joe Giarrusso called, we had a good chat about the horrors of the SWBNO and he was happy that my bill was corrected, but this does not solve the problem for everyone.  He had sent my bill directly to the Executive Director of SWBNO.”

Graf finally gives the best advice to anyone who plans on dealing with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, “Just don’t do autopay with SWBNO.  I do not and don’t know what would have happened if I did.  I know some people with horror stories about autopay with no refund, just a credit.” Imagine a $100,000 credit. Yikes.

No, like Graf said, it doesn’t solve the problem for everyone. If you’ve had an upsetting experience with the Sewerage and Water Board, especially where your bill is concerned, please reach out to Michael David Raso. Also, for those who need to dispute their billing charges, please check out this page of the Sewerage and Water Board.

Our previous article on Sewerage and Water Board billing problems can be found here.

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