Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Fun with 3-1-1

I opened my water bill a few weeks back and I couldn't believe my eyes.
The bill said my water cost was $350.
Two bills ago, it was $125.
I called up the city, on the famous 3-1-1 line

Hello, City of Ottawa.
Hi. I'm calling about my water and sewer bill. It's doubled in the last three months.
Silence.
I'm hoping you can tell me why that is.
Why what is?
That my bill has doubled.
How many people are currently living in your house?
Five.
Oh. Well, we estimate that every person uses $50 worth of water.
And one is a baby. To my thinking, she uses about three litres a week.
Yes, as I said, we estimate that every person in a household uses $50 worth of water.
Well, that makes it $250.
Hah. Well, then, you must have a leaky toilet. You should have the toilet checked. That is the primary reason why people's bills go up.
We don't have a leaky toilet.
You'd be surprised. Go into your bathroom and tell me: is it running?
No.
Perhaps you should have your faucets replaced.
We did have our faucets replaced last year.
Then everyone is using $50 worth of water.
That still makes our bill $250. Look. We don't even had a dishwasher and we've had five people here all along and three months ago, the bill was $125.
But that was probably an estimate.
So you mean for the past five years, nobody's done an actual meter check here?
Silence.
Please visit our website at www.ottawa.ca and you can find more reasons why your water consumption has gone up.
Is there anything else I can help you with today?
If I told you, I'd be arrested.

I've been to this rodeo before, my friends.
You see, the same thing happened a few years ago, and I argued and argued. I even called my council person who said the water bill was a matter between me and the finance department.
There would be no appeal.
Then a few months later, I started getting bills with a credit. I didn't get a water bill for nearly six months.
No one can explain how the accounting works at City Hall.
Trust us. That seems to be in script used by the agents.
And if you have an issue that isn't in a script, well, then you're in for a shit load of trouble.

Hello, City of Ottawa. How can I help you?
Yes, hello. My son and granddaughter were walking down the street and found a skull. We thought we should call and have someone take a look at it. You know, in case it's human.
Ah, okay.
I'm calling because in recent years, citizens have found human remains on their property. I haven't seen my neighbor lately -- the one who is always calling the Fire Marshal about the crack heads next door -- and I think they might have killed her.
Did you call Ottawa Police?
Yes, and they told me to call you.
That would be the responsibility of bylaw. Hold, please?
Hello, City of Ottawa, bylaw.
Hi. I found a skull on my property and thought it might be human.
Oh, you need animal control.
Hold please.
Ten business days later, my call was returned.

Hello, this is animal control.
(I explained the situation.)
Oh, it's probably a coyote. I wouldn't worry about it.
(A lot of things were going through my head.)
You mean there are wild coyotes roaming in Elmvale Acres eating senior citizens?
Did the coyote eat my neighbor? Maybe the crack heads killed my neighbor. Maybe the crack heads killed their dogs.
Maybe the crack heads will kill my dog.
I'm sorry, we can't help you. Just put the skull in the garbage and they'll take it on the next designated garbage day, which will be just after Thanksgiving given our current garbage pickup plan.
Have a nice day.

I must admit. I always feel better dealing with the City of Ottawa.




 

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