Report: Board of Water Supply overcharging customers

Report: Board of Water Supply overcharging customers

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A scathing auditor's report released Tuesday says the Board of Water Supply should reduce rates.

The audit was commissioned by the City Council last year after an overwhelming number of complaints.

One of the biggest complaints, a $7 billing fee that used to be bi-monthly, became a monthly fee. That generated 79 million dollars for a 16 million dollar billing system.

The auditor writes, "BWS monthly water charges need to be substantiated and could be reduced." The auditor also suggests refunds to customers. But Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says that money could be spent on improving other problems.

One of those, the automated meter readers. When those don't work, people had to go out to manually read meters, costing the company a lot of money and forcing estimated bills. The auditor says estimated bills accounted for a significant amount of overcharges.

"We did have problems, there's no way to say it other than that," says Lau, the BWS Manager and Chief Engineer, "Last year was not a good year for us."

Lau says they have already made significant improvements to the system and estimated bills account now account for only 2% of the total.

The report also showed a major problem with the call center.

"The auditor did point out, customer service, and he's absolutely right, I agree," says Lau, "That's an area with opportunities to make improvements."

Wait times would reach almost two hours last year. Lau says that's now under five minutes.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says she is satisfied with the audit and the BWS' changes so far, she hopes more are coming.

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