Courtesy Image, Soos Creek Water & Sewer

Courtesy Image, Soos Creek Water & Sewer

Soos Creek Water & Sewer District corrects billing errors

One customer received a bill for $9,000; district serves parts of Kent, Auburn, Renton and other cities

A couple of Soos Creek Water & Sewer District customers were shocked when one saw a February bill for $9,000 and another one received a bill for $3,648.

A change out of meters in parts of the district and a new billing system led to the errors.

“Soos Creek recently completed a conversion process for a new billing system that went into effect in early February,” said Jane Vandenberg, Soos Creek general manager, in a March 24 email. “During one of the first bill cycles in the new system, on a small number of our water accounts (166 of 20,667 accounts) the bills were substantially higher than normal, due to a data transfer issue with the water meter.”

Soos Creek serves nearly 110,000 people in southeast King County, including parts of Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Kent, Maple Valley, Renton and unincorporated King County. The Soos Creek office is in Renton.

Customers who reported the high bills on social media also noted they were able to correct the error with a call to Soos Creek.

“Staff research found that the issue occurred on water accounts with meter exchanges in the small window just prior to Go live (with the new billing system),” Vandenberg said. “The final meter read data transfer resulted in incorrect consumption values.”

Based on the small number of customers affected by this issue, Vandenberg said working to contact them directly was the district’s first effort.

“Staff contacted all affected customers that had a phone number or email associated with their account,” she said. “There were a few customers that did not have a phone number associated with their account. Our customer service team received about 35 calls (some from customers that hadn’t had a chance to listen to the voicemail we left).”

Staff also identified a few accounts where the higher bill was due to a leak and notified those customers, Vandenberg said.

“Adjustments are being finalized and adjusted bills will be mailed to affected customers,” she said. “Our team will continue to monitor high/low consumption reports and review charge reports to catch any amounts that look unusual. With the bill correction and delay, we are waiving late payment fees.

“Because this issue was related to a meter change-out that happened just before conversion, it shouldn’t happen again.”

Vandenberg said Soos Creek tried to reach out to customers.

“We put a notice on our webpage to notify customers of the delay in the February bills as we work through a few issues with the new system, our phone message notification is regarding the billing delay and waiving of penalties,” she said. “Our on-line payment vendor has a notice on the login page that notes our transition, and that account activity may not be up to date.”

Soos Creek has 20,667 customer accounts for water and 33,926 sewer accounts. Some customers are water service only, some sewer only and some are water and sewer.

“When new software programs are implemented, there are often bugs that need to be addressed,” Vandenberg said. “This one has had a few, but they have been identified and addressed fairly quickly thus far. The staff has worked hard over the last two years to implement this system and included a notice about the conversion in customer billing statements prior to ‘Go Live’ in February and a notice on our webpage to make sure customers were aware, particularly if they don’t get a paper bill. That’s why we like to have a current email and/or phone number on file for all our customers.”

Water for Soos Creek Water & Sewer is received from Seattle Public Utilities via Lake Youngs and sewer is conveyed to King County’s South Treatment Plant in Renton.

The district is governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners.

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