Customer Service Fees
Whenever a customer requests that a water meter be put into service a utility employee usually must go to the service location to obtain a meter reading and turn on the meter. A flat fee to recover the employee’s labor and vehicle cost is charged. Normally these fees range from $20 to $50 per service call and are non-refundable.
When a customer service visit is necessary to reconnect a service that was terminated for nonpayment, the utility may charge the customer a service fee. Typically these fees are $20 to $50 per service call and are non-refundable.
Occasionally a customer will damage a water meter or meter connections by turning the service on or off without using the proper tools. A utility will want the customer to reimburse the costs of the meter, connections, etc. that were damaged. Actual labor costs or a customer service fee may also be charged.
Fees for Calls Outside of Normal Working Hours
The utility may choose to charge for customer-initiated service calls outside of normal working hours. This charge may be actual costs incurred or a flat fee that has already been established for these types of calls. Either way the goal is to recover some, or all, of the costs involved.
Returned Check Service Fees
A city may choose to charge a service fee for handling returned checks. This is easily justified because some costs are incurred by the water and sewer utility to collect these monies. Sometimes having a published charge discourages customers from giving the utility bad checks. Cities should consult their auditors or attorneys when establishing these fees as there are maximum charges allowable under state law. It is important for utilities to view service fees as a way to recover the costs of providing specific services to their customers. Utilities should avoid inflated service fees that can harm customer relations. Also, it is important that the customer be aware of fees before the service is provided. At the time a customer applies for service he or she should be given a handout that lists appropriate policies or fees. These may also be published in local newspapers and newsletters or inserts that customers receive. This is especially important when changes are made to existing fee schedules.