York County home without plumbing hit by $1,200 self-paid water bill

FAIRVIEW TWP., YORK CO., Pa. (WHTM) — He says it would be like throwing money down the toilet, if only the house even had a toilet.

Mike Shreffler doesn’t know which is more shocking: a sewer bill of $1,287 after two years of bills that never topped $12 – or the fact that he got the four-figure bill from a house without plumbing.

Bills from Pennsylvania-American Water were so consistently $11—something that Shreffler was unaware of the large bill until his bank notified him the money was gone—automatically drafted by Pa. American , just like $11 bills and triggering overdraft protection.

“I have multiple accounts with them,” Shreffler said. “And every month they do the same thing. They take money from all my accounts. I don’t watch anything.”

Shreffler says he bought the house in question two years ago and immediately began remodeling it to later rent out to tenants. This work continues. The house has no plumbing fixtures. No toilets, no showers, no dishwashers or washing machines.

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Once he looked at the bill, Shreffler was able to tell that the utility had credited him with all the bills less than $12 he had paid in the past two years, but rebilled him over $75 a month. all this time.

He called the company and says an agent told him they couldn’t figure out what happened – one of three calls he said he made this week, the last two cases have assured that the matter was being escalated. An investigation could take up to 30 days, he says, agents told him, after which he could be reimbursed if the company agrees the bill was a mistake.

“It takes them up to 30 days to research,” he said. “However, it didn’t take them 30 days to bill it.”

Shreffler says research should be easy.

“I invited them to physically come to the house and watch it,” he said Thursday. “You can physically go out and inspect it – you know, validate that there’s no water coming into the house and there’s nothing at all coming out of the house.”

Not convinced a resolution was imminent, he called abc27, who contacted Pa. American.
“We are committed to accurately billing our customers and resolving any billing errors,” a spokesperson told abc27 News in an emailed statement. “This customer alerted us to their billing issue three days ago, and we investigated and corrected the issue immediately, refunding the processing fee [Wednesday] and sending an email and letter explaining the situation. We will also contact the customer directly to discuss reimbursement of overdraft fees and fees owed.

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abc27 News reached out to Shreffler to confirm this account: Maybe he forgot an email and the refund?

He rechecked. No email and no money, he said.

And then something worse: a call from a Mechanicsburg-based agent in the utility’s “customer advocacy” department — according to Shreffler — saying the big bill was okay. All along, the agent said, Shreffler should have been charged a much higher “unmetered” rate rather than the $11 (which itself had risen in two years from less than $7) for someone ‘one that empties nothing.

The solution, according to Shreffler’s characterization of the conversation: Pa. American will install a counter on Friday. Shreffler doesn’t know how this will turn out, given that he says there’s nothing to connect a meter to. Either way, the agent said, it should reduce Shreffler’s bills in the future, but he would still be liable for the sudden $1,287 bill from the previous two years.
abc27 contacted the utility again, passing on the agent’s name and phone number, which Shreffler had provided. All surely an error – correct?

This time, the spokesperson was less committed.

“We apologized to the customer for the lack of communication and will continue to work with them to resolve this issue in accordance with our rates and services, which are regulated by the PA Public Utility Commission,” the spokesperson wrote. “Due to the ongoing nature of this billing dispute, we will be working directly with the customer going forward.”

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