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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

Imaginary apology

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Byron Shire Council has some explaining and apologising to do regarding their mismanagement of water rates bills to a host of properties in the shire over the last year. However, as also became apparent during a lengthy phone call I had to Council’s water rates department questioning their errors, a satisfactory explanation and apology is not likely to be forthcoming.

Therefore, as a community service to all those affected by the aforesaid mistake, I would like to offer the following imaginary letter from Council as an alternative way that disgruntled water rates payers can feel their situation has been properly addressed.

‘Dear Water Rates payer,

It has unfortunately become apparent to us that the water rates bills we’ve been sending you for the last year have been completely inaccurate. In fact, they have been about as accurate as our estimation of your gullibility, which clearly was also not very accurate. We therefore would like to offer the following apology and explanation for the erroneous bills you received.

You see, due to extremely poor supervision and management on our part, we have been sending you bills every quarter that despite the usage readings on the bill bore no resemblance to your actual usage during that period. Why not? Well, we simply didn’t think to check whether people we hired to read your meters were actually reading them. Who would have thought? Just because it was easy without supervision for the fellow we hired to make up the meter readings while having a beer down the pub doesn’t mean that he would actually do that, would he? Well, LOL, I guess we were inaccurate about that as well.

So as a result we have actually been undercharging you all year. Well, I have to say we’ve been undercharging you, because if we were overcharging you we’d have to pay you back money, and that’s not going to happen, is it? So let’s just all agree that we’ve been undercharging you. What that means is that we have to ask you to pay for water usage in this period that you actually used ages ago, maybe as much as a year ago.

So please ignore that fact that your current super-high bill actually doesn’t have anything to do with your current usage. Instead, consider that Council has given you an unrequested interest-free loan for the last year, and now we’re asking for the money back. That’s fair isn’t it? I mean, you did use the water at some stage didn’t you? Well, let’s just say that you did, even though all our meter readings were inaccurate. I mean, one of us has to be right, right? And since there’s hundreds of you and only one of us, well – that’s good enough for me anyway.

So, Council does recognise that your household budgeting process has been thrown upside down by not giving you any warning before asking you to pay back the loan you didn’t know we’d given you. But we’re sure you’ll agree that any financial pain you’re going through as a result is well worth the fact that for a while you thought you were better off than you actually were. Don’t you think it’s great that your Council is looking after you like that? We certainly do.

But, in case you still aren’t happy, Council would like to offer the following apology: Council regrets that we are poor managers and bad at customer service. We’re sorry that we invoice our customers inaccurately and then don’t take responsibility for it ourselves by paying for our own mistakes. We’re humbly embarrassed that nearly every local business we could name would probably cut their losses and consider such losses preferable to making so many of their customers unhappy. We wish we were like that, we really do, but we’re not. I’m sure you’ll understand… LOL

Your’s with tongue nowhere near the cheek,

Byron Shire Council… (as per imaginary letter received by Steve Berry, Suffolk Park)

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