Woman's $50,000 Water Bill Reminds Us What Not to Do at Home


AquariumIn the heat of summer, in a record drought year, I think we all expect we’re going to see a jump in our utility bills. I lived in one house where the clunky, old air conditioner cost roughly $25 a day to run -- so we made sure it was pretty darn hot before turning it on and spent a lot of time in the kiddie pool out back.

But a monthly water bill for more than $50,000 ($53,061.92, to be exact)? It happened to a woman in Colorado. It said she had used more than million gallons of water in a month. For comparison purposes, the Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest, and it has 10 million gallons of water. In contrast, Lisa Mannion’s home is an unassuming three-bedroom home with a drought-resistant garden (according to Google Street View).

What would you do if you opened a bill for that much? And what happened to make it jump?

Mannion herself said she assumed it was a “computer glitch,” since there was no way she could use that much water even if she turned on all the faucets, all the time, and ran shrieking through the sprinklers for a month straight, singing, “Water, water, everywhere! I am the Queen of Atlantis!”

Not that she tried that. As far as I know, anyway. 

While there was indeed a problem with her meter, it was supposed to be fixed with a manual reading by an actual human who came to her home. Said person either wrote it down wrong (buh?) or entered “Eight Million Gallons, For Realz, Yo!” into the system when he got back to the office -- and then nobody thought to question the obvious, glaring mistake (double buh).

So the next time you tell me, “I’m going to use the teller, because I want to make sure my check gets deposited,” or “I don’t trust automatic pilot -- the human touch is so much more reliable,” or even “Did you see it for yourself?” I’m going to remind you about the lady in Colorado who got a $53,000 water bill because a real, live person said she'd used 8 million gallons of H2O that month. I may even sing, “Water, water, everywhere! I am the Queen of Atlantis!”

Did you ever get a bill that was glaringly wrong?

Image via Kobakou/Flickr

home finances, home life, newsworthy


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SandM... SandMsMama

human error, way more common than computer error. computers only do what we tell them, so there is no such thing as computer error

Torto... Tortoise77

Yeah, when I was living with my mom we got a $5,800 dollar bill for electricity. Turns out we were being charged for the whole apartment building. Yikes!

lovin... loving.life

Hon H²0 isn't water.  The 2 should be subscripted and the 0 should be an O - it stands for oxygen.


sugar... sugarmansmom

Yep, a month ago I got a $600 cable bill.  Called and called and they kept telling me that it was for boxes I never returned, I told them we were still using all of the same boxes wth are you talking about?? Finally got a woman on the phone who realized that not only were they charging me for boxes that were in their inventory, but they had charged me twice for each. 

bree_... bree_gabys_mom

Mine hasn't been that bad my utilities usually run around $70.00 but in my town they are lazy and just guess the amount of utilities used for a month and my bill last month was double (some may not see it as a biggie but when you save every penny you have to take your child to children's hospital even the extra 70 is a big deal). My bil lives alone has no a/c and his bill was over 200 but like I said in my town they have been guessing lately.

cheez1e cheez1e

My water bill went up from one house to the next. From about 90 every 3 months to almost 400. I have a suspicion that my water line was tied into the neighbors or something cuz I didn't change anything and had no washer or dishwasher.

1swee... 1sweetmommma

There was one apartment I lived from 2005 until 2009 that I had to move out of because of this. My power bill was always between $80 and $100. Suddenly, when one particular neighbor moved in(whose bf just so happened to be the electrician for the apartments) my bill skyrocketted to $200+ a month! The landlord refused to sign the papers for the power company to come & inspect, so I paid the bill and moved out.

Debbie Taylor

Oh yes, I have gotten some glaringly wrong bills.  Not to this extreme of course.  When I lived in WA state, my monthly energy bill was around $150 in the winter and $75 in the summer.  One month I got a bill for $2,545!  For ONE month!  They power company refused to look into it or to corrwct my bill.  The usage for the previous month was $80 and the following month was $72.  So how does a bill jump up that high for one month, without some sort of mistake?!  Puget Sound Energy would not work with me and threatened to shut our service off.  So, we moved!   I have bad credit anyway...What's one ore mark?!

Magen Kauffman

My in-laws had that problem with Comcast.  One day they got a bill for over $5K. Turns out that when they signed up for Comcast over 6 years before, they had gotten some kind of package deal discount that was supposed to end after the 1st year. Well Comcast never changed the cost, so for the next 5 years my in-laws were still paying the discounted cost. it took Comcast 5 YEARS to figure out that they had never changed it over and then tried to charge my in-laws for 5 years-worth of additional charges b/c of a mistake THEY made. My MIL refused to pay the bill, told them she was cancelling her service and told them to go ahead and take her to court for the $$$$, knowing that it was not her resposibility to pay them for THEIR mistake. The reversed the charges and tried to give her a NEW package deal to keep her from leaving. She refused and left them for Fios and never looked back!

Jason... JasonsMom2007

The sad thing is the water company here would say too bad (they were majorally overcharging for months and people were getting $800 water bills who were on vacation and had their water shut off!) and if you don't pay it in full in 10 days your water is getting shut off and you'll owe us 20% per day interest!

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