The Malaysian Insight, 3 Jun 2020 10:59AM
FORUM Air Malaysia has received many complaints on bill hikes based on approximated calculation made by water supply operators. Water bills more than double and some were up to 10 times as high for May as it comprised March and April bill adjustments. In some cases, it was reported that customers who previously received bills around RM20 a month now received bills upwards of RM90 or even exceeding RM100. Furthermore, many consumers in Selangor with monthly income of RM4,001 and above did not realise that they were not eligible for the 20 cubic meters of free water since March 1.
Based on the complaints received, account holders are burdened with this additional water charges. The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) said generally, domestic consumers use more water than usual during the movement control order (MCO) as there are more daily activities at home. Billing issues highlighted extensively through complaints in social media are not only due to bill estimations by Air Selangor but also seen in Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Pahang and Johor. Forum Air Malaysia would like to stress that this issue increases consumers’ desperation to meet their financial obligations during the lockdown as SPAN in a statement said consumers are requested to pay their respective water bills and if they are overcharged, the correction would be recorded in the bill next month.
Based on the method of water bill calculation issued by SPAN for implementation during the movement control order (MCO) to be used by water supply operators, we hope that consumers will gain confidence on the method used and proceed to pay their bills according to their actual water consumption. We encourage all water operators to immediately adopt SPAN guidelines on water bill calculation to rectify the overcharged consumers. Many consumers are already paying the estimated bills fearing water cuts in the event action is taken. We plead with water supply operators to make provisions that enable consumers pay outstanding bill amounts by instalments to lessen the burden of consumers who have either lost their jobs or who did not receive their salary during the MCO.
Apart from the additional water charges, consumers are disputing the minimum charges for the water that they did not consume. Service providers in collaboration with SPAN should have proactively disseminated the water calculation method guidelines to consumers to create awareness. Consumers are reminded to proactively monitor on the water usage and play a part by being water smart. We look to SPAN and all water supply operators for a fast and reasonable solution to ensure that such occurrences does not repeat in future.