From the River to the Tap: Billing

“Before any water bill goes out, there is a long process involving a lot of people, all to make sure each bill is accurate and sent on time.”

Customer Service Revenue Assistant Febee Martin is not only a 12-year Charlotte Water employee. She’s also a detective, reviewing water bills for the department’s nearly one-million customers as part of a critical process that ensures bills are accurate.

Here’s how it works: specially equipped Charlotte Water trucks drive specific routes and read meters via transmitter. The data is downloaded and the system checks it. If the data falls within a normal range for the customer, the bill goes out. If it’s outside the norm, Febee and her three coworkers start investigating to determine whether there’s an issue with the meter, a water leak, or just a month with high water use.

Febee Martin pic

“Before a customer even sees the bill, we check it,” she said. “We go into the account and analyze the information, which includes pictures of the meter, readings, the transmission report and previous bills. We look at all the details to figure out why the data falls outside the normal use.”

Sometimes the answer could be as simple as a customer starting up an irrigation system in the spring; the account history may show a similar jump in use the previous spring, so the bill will go out. Other times, Febee needs on-the-ground information, so she’ll send a service order.

“Our investigators call the customers and go to their homes,” she explained. “They check the meter to ensure it’s working properly. If it is, they’ll look for leaks. Many times, customers will find out about a leak at their home from us – before they even receive a higher bill.”

It’s one way Charlotte Water is proactive, using these “detectives” to check customers’ bills for unusual activity and help track down the issue.

“When I started, I didn’t know how detailed the water bill really is,” Febee said. “Customers only see the paper bill, and they don’t realize everything that goes into it before it ends up in their mailbox.”

Febee takes her job seriously – and so does her sister, who also works for Charlotte Water, in the finance department.

“This job provides a service. What I do helps the customers, and we try to provide the best service we can.”

To read the next step in the water process click here