NJ Woman, 91, Wins Fight Over Staggering Water Bill

Eleanor Sochanski says she was expecting to pay about $120, but got a bill instead for more than $2,000

Eleanor Sochanski was worried sick that she was going to lose her home over a $2,312 water bill. That was a staggering amount compared to the $120 she was expecting to pay.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” Eleanor told the Courier-Post.

And this is a woman who’s apparently pretty meticulous about paying her bills on time, according to the newspaper, which made Eleanor’s problem a front page story over the weekend.

Now that Eleanor's story is so public, it looks like her problems are about to go away.

"This is a woman who certainly deserves to have some peace of mind and we want to restore that for her," the water company's senior vice president for communications, Rich Henning, told NBC10 on Monday.

According to the article, United Water billed Eleanor for using nearly 200,000 gallons of water in the last six months of 2011. History shows for that time frame, she normally uses about 6,000 gallons. Eleanor says she doesn't have a water leak, her habits haven't changed and she can't understand why her next water bill was back to normal.

Eleanor's convinced that someone made a mistake and that she's been overcharged. She tried to get City Hall to help her out, but that hasn't worked. United Water’s customer service folks “were beyond rude” when Eleanor's Medicaid assistant, Susan Schappel, tried to troubleshoot on her behalf. Because she doesn't have enough money to pay the bill, a lien was placed on Eleanor’s home and if the worst-case scenario played out, she could have been evicted.

Henning assures us that will not happen. "I can tell you that we are gong to do everything we have to do that's necessary to keep her in her home and ensure that she continues to be safe and has her water and continues to lead a good life." Henning says the water company and city will work out the details on taking care of the bill and the lien.

No one seems able to say with confidence what exactly went wrong -- why Eleanor got such an exorbitant bill -- only that she won't have to spend any more precious time worrying.

Read More: Courier Post

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