COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Craig Teal moved into his home in Copperas Cove on Oct. 22. The house was new, the plumbing was new and the water meter was new. Teal's first water bill from utility company Fathom only covered about a week, but he said he was still shocked.
His bill said he used 53,612 gallons of water in six days. During the first few days, Teal had not even been in the home.
"We didn't move into the house until Oct. 22," Teal said. "The billing period is from Oct. 17 to Oct. 23."
Teal's bill was more than $400, but he was more worried about his next bill. Wednesday, the meter was reading more than 135,000 gallons.
When Teal checked his usage online, the graphs made no sense. For several days of usage, Fathom's site said Teal had used exactly 33 gallons an hour in a 24 hour period. Other days had data completely missing. Teal said Fathom's customer service people could not explain the data.
"They were saying they were showing continuous usage," Teal said.
Teal said Fathom told him there was a leak in the system so he called BWC plumbing, which worked on the house, to check it Wednesday morning.
"There's no leaks found, no damage anywhere. They checked irrigation, they checked all the lines in the house, they checked the meter, nothing," Teal said.
Since Fathom said there was not an error, and there was no leak, that only left the water meter. So, KCEN Channel 6 reporter Andrew Moore worked with Teal to drain 20 gallons out of the master bathroom, while a camera rolled on the meter to see if it was accurate.
The meter correctly measured the water.
Turns out Fathom and the city of Copperas Cove made a mistake simultaneously.
Moore also reached out to Fathom during the investigation and described the issues found in detail. Vice President of Client Partners Brad Dreier investigated the case and sent Channel 6 a statement that said the city of Copperas Cove provided a meter read that was incorrect and had billed Teal for water he had not used. As a result, Fathom had overcharged Teal more than $200, but the statement said they have since corrected it.
"The initial meter read provided by the city included consumption prior to the customer’s move-in date in error.
In addition, we did not receive an automatic meter read until October. It appears that the antenna is damaged, and unfortunately, we were not flagged as usual since the home was vacant. What the customer is seeing is a series of prorated amounts based on the last meter read we received in August.
The customer has been rebilled with the correct consumption. The new balance owed is $31.13 due on 11/26/2018.