A homeowner asks questions to DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond at a meeting to address the most recent steps the county has taken to resolve the water billing crisis at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur on April 11. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Survey: Water billing problems earn DeKalb low ranking

DeKalb residents are unhappy with their water service, giving the county the second-lowest customer satisfaction score in the United States, according to a survey by J.D. Power.

The survey’s findings come as many DeKalb residents are complaining about inexplicably high water bills and poor customer service. In some cases, inaccurate bills amount to thousands of dollars.

They hope they are getting closer to getting answers about high water bills.
Video: www.accessatlanta.com

DeKalb ranked at the bottom in the South and was ahead of only Cleveland nationwide, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study published May 17.

RELATED: How to dispute high water bills in DeKalb

The county scored poorly on questions about billing and water service reliability, said Andrew Heath, senior director of the utility practice at J.D. Power, a global marketing information services company.

“Just get the bills right so you’ve got accurate billing,” Heath said. “That’s an expectation. If you fail to meet that expectation, that drives dissatisfaction.”

The city of Atlanta also fell below the average score in the South, while water systems in Cobb and Gwinnett counties were closer to the top of the rankings.

The highest-rated water systems were in Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Orange County, Fla.; Seattle; New York; and Saint Paul, Minn.

The survey included customers who agreed to participate in online market research and answer questions online. J.D. Power verified respondents by asking for their zip codes and water utility providers. 

More than 40,000 people nationwide completed the survey, which covered 87 water utilities that deliver water service to at least 400,000 people. J.D. Power didn’t disclose the number of respondents in DeKalb.

Residents evaluated each water utility on six factors: delivery, price, conservation, communications, customer service, and billing and payment. The survey includes feedback from water customers from June 2016 to March 2017.

DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond promised to fix the county’s billing problems, but it could take several years to replace water meters and upgrade computer billing systems.

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