CFPUA's delayed billing cycle makes it impossible for disabled vet to pay bills
cfpua300.jpg

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's been a never ending battle with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority for one disabled veteran. Talmadge Pearce is just one of many people in New Hanover County, who do without water because of billing problems by the water monopoly.

It's been two years now and Pearce is still trying to come to an agreement with the CFPUA so he can take a shower and go to the bathroom.

In July 2008 when the city and the county handed over water and sewer service to the CFPUA the last thing Pearce thought was he'd be living without water.

"I'm still dealing with the same issue and the reason I'm speaking out right now is because of the simple fact why do we have to suffer for their mistake and their negligence?" asked Pearce. "I mean why do we have to suffer for it?"

Pearce is a Vietnam veteran living on a fixed income. He's been fighting the same battle in Wilmington for two years. The CFPUA says when the water switched hands it faced computer software problems that caused billing to back up for at least five months. Customers were opening their mail to find outrageous bills they could not afford.

"We stated to them that it was not our problem," said Pearce. "It was not our mistake because he knew as well as I knew that I was trying to find a way to pay the bill."

The bills began to pile on and Pearce could not pay them in full. As a result the CFPUA shut off his water. He's now forced to get water from the creek and neighbors and lives out of these buckets.

CFPUA Chair Gene Renzaglia said, "If we go down the road and several months down the road the customer has made no attempt to work with us or to make any payments then we do take the action to cut their service off."

Pearce said he's made several attempts to negotiate with the CFPUA and has the paperwork to prove it.

"I want to make it very clear that that is the last thing that we ever want to do is to shut anybody's water off," said Renzaglia. "We do not take that action lightly so we are always open to discussions with the customer in order to find a way or a method to get payments in and for them to continue to have water and sewer service."

Despite Pearce's efforts to reach an agreement and pay what he can on his fixed income he's still without water.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

I got a past due bill after not receiving a bill for months, called and made arrangements to pay the bill in monthly payments, I paid what they told me to pay, then they cut my water off. I called them only to be told that I was given the wrong amount to pay. I said to them, "If I paid what I was told to pay and now you are saying that is wrong and and you are saying it is my fault that my water was cut off." Their answer was a big yes. I was lucky as I had a family member who could lend me the money to paid it in full as that is what they demanded. Still to this day I don't know how it was my fault. I paid the amount agreed on for two months and the second month they cut my water off because I didn't paid it in full. They are a company that does not know how to run a business office much less how to treat customers who are paying. Our government in New Hanover County is not worth the salt that goes in their cornbread as my Grandmother would say.

What kind of in depth article is this? Why don't you show us the proof that Mr. Pearce has been trying to resolve this? Wouldn't that just put an end to his nightmare right now? Put all the incontrovertible evidence out here so we can all see it.

Okay, he did not receive a water and sewer bill for five months.

What did he do with the money that he would normally have paid for water during those five months? Did he think that the water was free until he got a bill? Did it not occur to him that the meter was running?

Why did he not put the money into savings until CFPUA got off their incompetent butts and mailed out bills?

Sounds like Mister Pearce is no better at simple bookkeeping than CFPUA.

Common, you're right. I can't understand why people didn't realize this when the bills were delayed, and just save that money in preparation for them. duh? Such a no-brainer.

what if everyone only pays $10.00 per month on their water bill ? They would NOT be able to shut us off and after a few months lets see if they change their turn.

CFPUA Chair Gene Renzaglia said, "If we go down the road and several months down the road the customer has made no attempt to work with us or to make any payments then we do take the action to cut their service off."

That comment is total BS. This past Feburary I came home to find out that my water had been shut off. I was completely shocked considering the due date on my bill was not for another 3 days. When I went to thier office with a copy of my bill it took me over an hour of discussion to get them to not charge me a fee for turning on my water. They refused to admit thier mistake and I had to spend a night without water. I hate this company and feel sorry for the poor guys having to work for them. Shut them down now!

Anyone who has ever done a billing conversion should know exactly what to do in the case of the change of hands of this water fiasco. I have done many medical office conversions and had they even ASKED for help from anyone with knowledge, this disaster would not have happend!

What frustrates me is this is not hard from a preparing of bills standpoint. I do this on the daily at my office and probably for alot less pay! I can promise you there are a lot fewer screwups at my office.

The poor VA guy, if he has the proof, should get free service for all the time is has taken them to figure out what went wrong. I wish I could help.

It is a terrible system and they need another overhaul, and probably staffing changes. Ain't gonna happen, but it should.

Two years? TWO years??? Where's the Mighty McIntyre who does all those good things for veterans around here? And what is wrong with the CFPUA? Is it run by anti-American idiots? This is just unbelievable that while there's a new VA hospital being built in NH County, a new VA Clinic being planned in Brunswick County, and several Veterans advocate agencies around here that this man can't get his water turned on, whether he pays his $10,000 bill or not! HE's a VETERAN for God's sake!

K. Muster

will show up with one of his oversized cardboard checks to present to the CFPUA and pay this fine gentleman's bill.

This is as American as it gets,all about money.Just ask Common and Tom.

before you start throwing stones at Commonsense and I.

And for the record, both of us served our Countries also. That makes us Veterans.

Mike McIntyre cannot cure every ill. As for the VA clinic, to my knowledge, nothing has been done to start construction of the new one in New Hanover County. So far as I know, Brunswick is only getting local doctors who will contract with the VA for care. Not exactly a new clinic. Back the the issue....turning off someone's water is a health issue. He might get some action by getting the health department involved. Good luck to him and all the others who must do battle with CFPUA. I thank my lucky stars I have a well. I have lived in the same location for 33 years and only have to replace the pump about every 10 years, a simple hour do-it-yourself project.

I'm curious if you live in the city with a well and pump? I have a well, but only use it to water the grass, I didn't think you could use it for drinking water.

I would love nothing better than to get off their water!

Thanks,

apr

This situation is just plain shameful - I cannot believe that an elderly, disabled vet gets absolutely NO consideration from a disorganized, under-handed, self-serving, overblown utility company that failed to get its own billing system straight. Shame on us for letting this happen; shame on CFPUA for having no heart; and shame on Wilmington politicians and leaders for their part in this as well. That we would allow the weakest among us, a vet who served this country, to go without running water & sewer in their home is unfathomable.

I too, received a "Outrageous" Bill when this Company from H*LL, came about. I also would be in Mr. Pearce's shoes, If it wasn't for "donations" from friends that helped Me catch up My bill..

That, ANYONE, can believe what the CFPUA says, I've got beachfront in AZ to sell you.. They are indifferent, with Ego's that have "power" over your lives Daily needs... Laughing in your face all they way to the Bank with what little your able, or can afford to pay.. While piling on "FEES", in addition to RAISING rates even higher for EVERYONE.

There needs to be COMPASSION, (and a AUDIT on Finances!), on CFPUA's part on it's seniors and disabled citizens in the City/County, concerning it's billing procedures, and rates that are just OUTRAGEOUS! 1 maybe 2 short showers a WEEK, eating on Paper plates, once a month laundry day fearing that BI-Monthly bill that WILL eat you alive if your on a fixed income.
CFPUA is a out-of-control, much like our .GOV that needs too have it's Heels reined in, before there is a "Revolt"...
Where are the Protest's, Pitchfork's and Torches?, Sheeple of our County?!
In the Meantime, I hope to get the OLD Well out back working again, along with making a Cistern to supply My Water needs...

When will the county and city decide to do away with this monster they allowed to be created. The CFPUA has been nothing but a problem to every citizen for New Hanover county from the beginning. The accounts they have not collected on are their problem for being careless and deliquent in their duties to the citizens. They have raised rates twice this year.

They need to get off their high horse and clear everyone's bill that resulted from their failures to fulfill their duties in a timely manner. This gentleman has served his country and this is how the CFPUA treats him. WOW He served us all to be mistreated by a utility company with no appreciation for his scarfice. I wish the CFPUA's control over our water and sewer would come to an end.

that if he has documents showing he has been making good faith efforts to work with the Authority, then they have not acted in good faith. So the first thing he needs to show is a clear paper trail of what his attempts have been and the response to each.

Then, it would seem he should show what payments, if any, he made. Did he attempt to make partial payments? Were they accepted or refused? Therein is another example of acting in good faith.

Good Faith is a 2 way street.

I believe it's obvious that the CFPUA is incompetent when it comes to billing and resolving it's own problems and by it's own admission, is owed millions in delinquent accounts--Perhaps it they had billed correctly to start with, this wouldn't be the case. Mr. Pearce served our country and protected our freedoms and certainly deserves WATER SERVICE to his home. Let's start a phone campaign to the office to get this man's water service restored to his home. WIPE OUT his delinquent account and allow him to start fresh! TURN IT BACK ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the CFPUA was having their billings problems and we weren't getting our bills. I knew that the first bill was going to be very very high I called them and asked being that some of my neighbors received their bills I asked if I could start paying a little each month, so the bill wouldn't be so high. I was told by CFPUA that being I had no bill ( I had no account number) I would NOT be able to make a payment at that time and if I did it would only make create problems. I tried to make payments and was told that I couldn't. They had the problems so why did everyone have to pay because of their problems ???

I think it is disgraceful for them to turn off MR. Pearce's water and sewer..
I fully believe that he has tried to work something out with them, and they are just covering up their mistake...

I love how two wrongs make a right for our elected officals. Do we seriously need anymore proof of the failings of government? Then why do we continue to expand government, local, state and federal to take on more tasks to which they have to need? Yes, Wilmington.. please annex some more, we really want to be a growing part of your fail.

The elected offical mantra, "None of us is as dumb as all of us."

Over the last part of December of last year, we (a family of six) went without water for three days. The bill I had stated I had until January 21 to pay before shutoff; to my surprise my husband yelled, "what's up with the water?!" A call to CFPU revealed they had mailed an additional bill that I never received, and said mystery bill's magic date had come and gone, and we were without water until payday. Period. I was told by the guy in charge that I knew I owed money, and I should have paid it, regardless of whether I received a bill or not.

What a disgrace to the citizens of Wilmington the CFPU has turned out to be. For a veteran of our country to not have water service for even one day, much less TWO YEARS, is truly outrageous.