S&WB customers frustrated by billing issues; customer service

Many customers shared their stories overbilling and poor customer service when dealing with the S&WB.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been saying that there are three critical issues that need fixing at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board: power; manpower; and drainage pumps.

Customers tell WWL-TV, you can add billing and customer service to that list.

When it comes to dealing with the Sewerage and Water Board, it seems like most customers have a horror story.

"The workers will tell me there's nothing they could do, this is your bill, you have to pay it," Annette Joseph said. "They were very rude, very rude."

Joseph is one of many "unsatisfied customers" of the Sewerage and Water Board.
     
She owns rental property on North Prieur Street in the 7th Ward.
     
Joseph says a few months ago, the utility mixed the bill she pays for water at a vacant apartment with that of an occupied unit.
     
Instead of $26 a month, she is now being billed for hundreds of dollars a month. Joseph has made multiple trips to the board's main office to get the statement corrected. 

"They're telling the customer there's nothing we can do," Joseph said. "When you leave there you're frustrated. Good thing I have Christ in my life to keep me with a sound mind."

WWL-TV's "Down The Drain" Facebook page is filled with customers, telling similar stories. Gumbo Roques from the Fairgrounds neighborhood wrote, "For 8 years my bill has never been over $100. Three months ago I received a bill for over $650."
     
Jacob Delaune from Gentilly told WWL-TV, "We have no leaks and it's not humanly possible that we are using over 30,000 gallons of water."

Maggie Marx from Uptown had this to say about a recent run-in with a water board employee over a billing issue: "I asked if there wasn't anyone I could talk to about this situation and she said no and I should go home."
     
The board's interim management team, put in place after the August 5 flood, now says it will make recommendations on how to improve customer service even though it wasn't part of the team's original mission.
     
City Councilman Jason Williams is urging them to do so.
     
"The last thing you need is to be talked down to or have someone who doesn't have sufficient answers when you're doing the right thing by calling the Sewerage and Water Board and trying to fix (your bill)."
     
In the meantime, Annette Joseph has a good idea where the SWB should start when it comes to better customer service.
     
"I think if they were to hire more qualified people with the experience to really serve the customers and change their bad personality as well."      
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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