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Toledoan says smart water meter installation cost him over $1,000

Landlord Andrew Jergenson was excited to get his new smart meter installed. But when a pipe burst during the installation, he was faced with a bill over $1,000.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo has been upgrading water meters the last few months, offering what city officials have claimed is a "no cost installation."

But, south Toledo landlord Andrew Jergenson said had to pay over $1,000 after what he called a botched installation.

Jergenson owns a duplex on Airport Highway and said he is always looking for ways to improve. So when he first heard of Toledo's smart water meter program, he was excited by what he read on the city's flyer.

"It seemed like a really good idea because it said in the letter, 'no expense to the owner.' Well, it didn't turn out that way," he said.

Jergenson said the contractor the city had hired, Johnson Controls, came to install the meter last Wednesday. And while they were trying to clear out one of the pipes, Jergenson said they made a critical mistake.

"Something broke in the process," he said. "They had to have the city come out and shut the water off and at that point, it just snowballed."

Jergenson's tenants were left without water.

Chris Flickinger, one of Jergenson's residents, said he has kids and the lack of water made it "a bit of a hassle."

When Jergenson reached out to the city and Johnson Controls to see who could fix the pipe, he was left with more questions than answers.

"They both basically put the blame on each other. And at that point, they said I had to pay for it," said Jergenson.

WTOL 11 reached out to the city of Toledo, which responded with a statement:

"[Johnson Controls] contractors have completed close to 10,000 water meters with this being the only incident on the private side line. The plumbing professionals are trained union plumbers who take care to perform work without damage to private infrastructure.

Unfortunately, incidents like this might occur over the course of completing all of the meter changes.

Customers are always responsible for repairs and maintenance to their private lines. Neither [Toledo's Department of Public Utilities or [Johnson Controls] (as its contractor) can take responsibility for the unknown conditions of private service lines.

In this instance, the installer followed standard procedures for operating a shut off valve. When operating the valve, the customer’s line broke and immediately began leaking. The issue wasn’t with the installer doing a simple valve operation, but with the private line coming from the shut off valve.

The City of Toledo and JCI share the same goal of doing complete and quality work."

But with no one else to take the fall, Jergenson had no choice but to pay over $1,000 out of pocket to a third-party plumber to restore water for his tenants.

"Save up some money before you get this new meter because it could end up costing you if something goes wrong," he said.

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