Local Family Gets ‘Rude Surprise’ As American Water Shuts Off Water On Hot Day Without Notice

nj_american_water_tlsThe following is a letter submitted to TLS which was sent today to the Amercian Water Company: Good afternoon. I wanted to bring to your attention a rude surprise that my family and I experienced today. On an excessively hot summers day our water was suddenly turned off with no advance warning whatsoever. With most of my kids home off from school along with an infant and a two year old, it has turned into a really miserable day.

I called the water company and was told that I was a couple of weeks past due on $152 which I paid immediately. I wasn’t 6 months late or 3 months late, it wasn’t $1000 or $500 it was $152 a couple of weeks overdue.

I didn’t receive any warning or even a courtesy phone call telling me that my water was going to be shut off. As a matter of fact the guy who was shutting it off didn’t even have the decency to knock on the door and say “Mister, I’m here to shut your water off.” Boom, it was turned off with my wife in the midst of washing dishes, no less. I find that despicable and ruthless to say the least. To turn the water back on I was told “it”can “happen” anytime between now and day’s end.

In the meantime my family of seven is trying to cope with no water and trying to make do with purchased bottled water as a substitute (my two year old spilled an entire bottle of chocolate syrup with no water to clean it up and my other kids are begging to have the kiddie pool filled up).

Many of my neighbors have been complaining about American Water in the past and now I inherently understand why that’s so. Being a businessman, I fully understand that that you want to be paid for the service that you have provided, but as a business and especially a utility that provides a basic and vital ongoing service there is no excuse for this horrible customer service that you have perpetrated on me and my family. You are a virtual monopoly and therefore the customer has no choice whatsoever but I think its time to revisit the deregulation of the “water supply” industry.
As I send out this email at 1:30 PM my water is still turned off. I look forward to what type of justified response you can possibly have. Thank you for your time.


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  1. I am sure they will charge us extra for this we MUST get them out of Lakewood my water bill monthly is more then my electric bill

  2. i had a guy come to my house to shut the water because i only paid $200 out of the $250 bill – meaning there was only $50 outstanding. I called the company on the spot and said :for $50 you’re going to shut off my water?” The lady replied (without exaggeration) “we would shut off your water if there is 1 PENNY outstanding.”

  3. what in the world does deregulation got to do with you not paying your bill? did you give fair warning to the water company that you will be paying late? i bet not so why should they give you warning. if you give your car in to be repaired ; most reliable shops will not let you take the car inless you made prior arrangments. im not understanding what your issue is.

  4. i fully agree they are ruthless and couldnt care less about their customers. we really need to make this a campaign to get rid of them. people dont be sheep. enough is enough. time to get rid of them. maybe we can form a boycott where nobody pays their bill on time.

  5. we must get rid of NJAW its a mafia run company and they have a stranghold over us. This is NAZISM all over, get rid of them now even if it costs us hundreds of thousands in legal fees!

  6. I had the same story today no warning or a knock on the door simple shut it off. And yes it will be turned on whenever they can get around to it! The chutzpah! Anything we can do about it?

  7. I agree with #1. my water bill this month was more then my electric bill, i just don’t understand how they can do this, now i have a question when the water is turned back on are they going to charge a fee for it being turned back on?

  8. Is there anybody that doesn’t have a complaint against The American Water Company??!!!!!!????

    They are way to expensive, with all these crazy fees!!!!!!

    Except in extreme weather, my water bill is more than gas & electric!!!!

  9. It is illegal to shut off the water without notice. Plus a minimum 30 day grace period is standard by all utility companies. Do yourself a favor and report them to the proper authoroties.

  10. I feel your pain- you are envited to my house,

    i had this once too! after that i put all my bills on auto pay thru my online bill pay

  11. what if everyone decided not to pay them all at once. I guess we would have to get a new water company since they would be unable to service us properly. We elected township officials and have a right to demand a change here.

  12. Don’t worry, we now have a wonderful blue ribbon committee that was set up to forward all your complaints…

    Seriously, can somebody finally explain in plain English, what there is to do to get another real competitor to this ruthless unaffordable water horror company?!

  13. My water was also just shut off. I pay my landlord regularly, I guess he just forgot to pay the water company! I think every landlord has an achrayus to pay on time! I’m not saying that I should deduct some rent money, but I feel like I should, especially because this is not the first time it’s happened.

    A question: do they charge a fee to turn the water back on? If yes, is it on the same bill as the whole water fee for the month, or a separate bill? Because I pay 1/3, and I don’t think it’s right for my landlord to charge me for his mistake. So if the water company charges, I sure hope it’s on a separate bill

  14. This is why the town should own the water company, not a for profit company that is not even American owned. Somehow the town needs to buy back the water rights to the town.

  15. we had the same story and even worse-our bill was paid a day before but was not in the system yet -our water was shut off and we threatened to call the media-it was turned on within 20 minutes

  16. 1. file a complaint with the BPU
    2. file a petition by as many as possible toe the BPU requesting a public hearing and penalties against this monopoly.

  17. The new commity they established is pathetic, they sit around the table talking about their plans for future growth, as if that is our issue. We must have another option, nothing els will stop their abuse.

  18. Pay the bill and this won’t happen. I don’t understand your anger! Yes I know its an inconvenience for you now but they need to be paid for the water or they will obviously stop the flow….

  19. I read your story with great interest and shared concern. I hope that by now your water is running again. Its really a horrible story that should never have happened to you, but sadly its as you say; they are a vitual monopoly and thats why they are able to get away with it. Shame on NJAWC!!!!!!

  20. Are we not paying to “buy” additional water, from up north?
    Seems like NJAW supply is not sufficient due to all of the growth we have in our town. Continue to grow, lack of water supply, and wow, we shall continue to pay more for our water. Remember, more than half of that water bill is for sewer service.

  21. they come after 3pm and shut your water off then when you call them to turn it back on they say you have to pay a 100 after hours fee when they work till 9pm and only do shut offs after 3pm a bunch off ganovim get rid off them

  22. So you are saying… You owed them money… And you are deciding that its not such a terrible amount because its “only” $152 past due.? You as a business man should understand this…. Take for instance 500 customers who are $152 overdue, so that’s $76,000.00… Would you just let that pass with a “courtesy” phone call? As a business man I think you should be the one that’s on top of your bills, I would say if this happened to a yungerman who has no experience in the financial world that’s one thing but you as a businessman should know better. Don’t do onto others what you don’t want to be done to you. They supply a service… You pay… You get the service. You don’t pay… They shut it off. I’m sorry.

  23. Are you sure you did not receive a cut off notice? A bill that says if it isn’t paid by a certain date that shut off is possible? Their systems are fully automated. This sounds more like a mistake than them being mean about a bill only a few weeks overdue. As much fun as it is to rag on the water company, and I am no fan, this doesn’t make sense.

  24. I get my water from Lakewood Township Municipal Utilities Authority, not American Water. It would seem that if Lakewood can itself service some of the town, there should be some possibility of taking over service for more of the town. This is not the first incident involving American Water that I have read on this site. On the other hand, I have not heard of such problems with LTMUA, and I have never had problems with them. Also, I believe that I am paying considerably less to LTMUA than forum members here report paying to American Water.

  25. Why is my water bill almost as expensive as my electric bill? It’s time for this water company to be competitive and offer good customer service or leave our township. Enough is enough.

  26. My water was shut off by them on erev pesach – and I had paid the bill two days before! It took them 2 hours to come and turn it back on. They said it was our fault because when we called with the payment we didn’t specify that we don’t want our water turned off anyway!!

  27. hi folks, speaking about shutting down without notice… I was just given the ax ! After working as a teacher devotedly for 10 years in one moisad they decide in the middle of the summer to send me a notice to go on a permanent vacation ! how’s that for job stability?!

  28. N.J American is much more expensive than the township water co, they also unfairly calculate your sewage usage for three winter months and then charge you for that amount the rest of the year, they are definitely a monopoly and we have no other choice but to use them and pay a much higher rate

  29. can TLS get a statement from our Township Committee.
    Something must be done they are taking advantage of the system.
    I calledd them and asked them what a charge is they told me “we don’t have enough water so we buy extra water from elsewhere and we are allowed to charge you more.
    I hope someone will wake up and do something serious

  30. I hope they are reading this:
    A: did you know that Lakewood townships waterbills are among the highest in the country?
    B: did you now although NJAW is called that they have not one office in NJ, wait a second they have an office filled with people on james street , but its off limits to its customers, why?
    C: we pay millions of dollars, we have a right to be treated humanely. turning off the water without notice is inhumane, they just do it to make the 65 bucks. 65 restoration X 100 people a day is 6500.00 a day, easy money for turning on/off a afaucet.
    D: We pay double the amount to treat the water than the water itself and we pay twice for it , once from NJAW and once from wherver they buy it
    E: all those estimated bills in those winter months add up to millions
    F; Does’nt GD provide the water? why should we pay so much for it.

  31. # 10 – Of course they charge you to turn the water back on. There is merit to that as they have to make a physical service call… but we all know they would not give up an opportunity to charge something anyway. In fact, they have 2 fee options. One for normal restoration and a more expensive one for expedited and/or after hours restoration.

    However, it is possible your landlord did not forward that cost to you if they just split the bill in 1/3. He would have had to pay the fee before they turned you back on (you have to pay in full plus the fee or they don’t turn you back on) as opposed to just being added to the bill. It would then be a seperate line item that shows up on the next bill and he could have charges you 1/3 without that piece. I guess it pays to ask him, though.

    # 22… utilities have a different responsibility than the typical business. In addition to the rules being different for basic needs in a civilized society (e.g. gas cannot be shut for non-payment in the winter)… they are a service who was given a monopoly by the government elected by the people to serve a public need and there are certain rules that comes with. Water is not a luxury and utilities are a different breed than a standard business.

    Additionally, no optional service in a standard business that charges you monthly is that aggressive. I had it too where they turned me off on Succos as well as half my neighborhood… when it was not even past 30 day’s past due. No normal business paid monthly for years would ever do that. While bill sshould be paid on time and as agreed… the fact is that nol standard business operates that aggressively as they would lose more customers and business that way than they would gain on the minimal additional exposed risk. The water company can do it because they don’t risk losing customers… they know the person will have to pay and take their service again. On the flipside, this minimizes their risk and should let them extend further… but they don’t. Know anyone who had their cell phone shut off before it was several months past due? Gym membership cancelled right away? Yeshiva throw out a kid that fast because tuition is only 1 month late? Let alone that other utilizites such as the local phone company (Verizon) as well as the gas and electric companies go 2 – 3 months past due before shutting down and offer multiple serious warnings. This was the case even before they were deregulated.

  32. i have a well, and have no problems. i just paid $650 for well testing and my water is clean and up to standards with the exception of PH balance, i`m at 5.5 not the recommended 6.5-8.5, this is the first time in 20 yrs my water has been retested. that equates to $32.50 a year. if its legal look into installing a well. 😉

  33. The water that LTMUA provides to me is from wells; in fact one such well is actually in the development where I live. Assuming that there is not enough available well water for LTMUA to service the entire town, I think that the possibility of LTMUA purchase and resale of additional water to town residents currently served by NJAW should be explored. It seems quite unfair that some residents should have to suffer higher water costs, shut-offs without notice, and no local officials to complain to because of the peculiarities of NJAW.

  34. Having your own well only works if you have your own septic system! I live on a block in Lakewood…..a really nice area I might add….where none of the homes use American water. We ALL have our own wells. BUT! We must all still pay the American water company for using the sewer system! They charge us …per gallon of our water that we use. This includes outside sprinklers, car washing, filling a pool watering flowers etc. The meter is placed where the watrer is pumped in from our well.
    A few years ago an outside spigot froze and burst. water ran into our backyard for three days continuousely because we were away for a long weekend.
    We are “averaged” from Nov. – April. Our bill is determined all year by what water we use in this time period. After the pipe broke our bills soared from$38/mo. to $138/mo. The AWC, township, and the state did NOT CARE!. We had to pay this fee for the entire time until we were “re”assesed.
    Lakewood used to have its own Watr utility that took care of the entire town. The Public wanted lower taxes! To do as the public wanted the township “outsoursed” this utility to save taxpayer dollars. IT didnt work ….did it! You and I are paying much more for water and terrible service now instead of keeping township citizens employed! Unfortunately….the public still doesnt want to pay. Soon our firemen, police, teachers and workers will ALL be outsoursed! What do you think our service will be like then?

  35. If you have a well, you can have a septic tank, which has it’s own problems, and I am not sure if you can put one in if you are already hooked up to sewer line. Maybe you can disconnect from the sewer and put in a septic system, but, it isn’t practical if you have a lot of water usage because it will have to be cleaned out more often or it won’t take all the waste.

  36. The other utilities knock on your door when they come to shut off your service, and give you one last chance to pay up. They don’t creep around behind your back like thieves in the night!

    My neighbor missed one NJAW bill and got a shut off notice when he received the next one. He called them to make a pyment plan. The agreement was that he’d pay half now and half in 2 weeks. Guess what??? One week after making his first payment and keepin to his side of the agreement his water was shut off (on a Friday, no less). I am going to make sure he reports this outrage to the BPU. What stinkers!!!

  37. It is true that if you don’t pay for a service you shouldn’t receive it. But when it’s a basic service like water it’s normal human decency to contact the person, give them a chance to pay.

    Not to shut their water without letting them know, maybe the payment was sent, but lost – (happened to me – the stamp fell off.)

    It’s not right to defend them with that argument – as they are looking for ways to shut it and charge “extra” to turn it back on after hours. An honest, open look at things is needed. No need to bend over backwards to judge them favorably.

  38. The water has never tasted that great but I do drink it because a filter is tto expensive and i can’t shlep the water.

    but the past few weeks it’ tastes horrible. is this the water from elsewhere? the “cleaned” water?

  39. There are times when we turn on the tap that the water smells like an overchlorinated swimming pool. It’s gross. We spend hundreds of dollars every year on bottled water because our wonderful tap water upsets our stomachs.
    Mr Kleinhendler’s a trial attorney. Perhaps he can use his considerable talents to file a suit against NJAWC on our behalf. This isn’t something to be taken lying down. The media and the NJ Attorney General’s office need to know about the water company’s underhanded tactics. This is a job for Mr. K’s oratorical skills. Senator Singer needs to launch an investigation. We’re being mistreated and it has to stop!

  40. I had a similar situation, except that my water was shut off on Shavuos, a couple of years ago! I saw the guy out the window and tried to plead with him that it was a holiday and I had no way of paying the bill on Yom Tov. He was very unsympathetic and said they cannot go by each person’s holiday and then he just shut it off! He claimed he could lose his job if he did not do it!!

  41. The same thing happen to me for a $113.60 . I struggle to pay all the bill in our house hold. Needless to say they make sure to shut it off on a Thursaday because by law they are not suppose to turn off on week ends just like how they turn off the water they could have left that turn off notice and give a shut off date . There was no shut off notice . I came home to prepare my husband s vegetables who is diabetic by way and did not have ester to do so . This is crazy there was no pass due amount except this bill was paid late . And there are charging $35 to shut off and $35 to put back on . This is hard for struggleing Americans can hardly pay the original bill . And I alway receive the bill after the due date. There must be some protection against this crazy act

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