CHICAGO (CBS) — Rodney Andrews became a leading protagonist in our now years-long fight to fix Chicago’s busted water billing system.
The series, Getting Hosed, has now won Emmy Awards in back-to-back years. But that’s not totally a good thing – it means the problem hasn’t been fixed.
Not even close, in fact.
So we have vowed to fix the bad bills, one at a time. This fixing just happens to fit Thanksgiving.
[Do you have an outrageous water bill from the city? Email Brad Edwards.]
CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards first introduced us to Mr. Andrews last year. Mr. Andrews had a water bill that amounted to a staggering $10,700.57 for water he never used.
Recently, Mr. Andrews got some new appliances that he was not expecting.
“You sure you got the right address?” Mr. Andrews told the Abt deliveryman.
The deliveryman did have the right address. A long-done wrong was being righted as an angel corporation delivered those brand-new appliances.
That corporation was urged by an angel investor who helped reconcile Mr. Andrews’ water bill, having been so moved by our first story on Mr. Andrews.
Mr. Andrews’ problems began back in 2003, when he bought this home from a friend who was facing financial difficulties. The two agreed that the friend would repurchase the home from Mr. Andrews after two years – but his friend’s finances never improved, leaving Mr. Andrews to assume the responsibilities of a property owner.
When his friend finally moved out of the house in 2007, he transferred a $214.07 bill to Mr. Andrews.
“I didn’t know anything about a water bill since I had never owned a house before,” Mr. Andrews said last year.
Even though Mr. Andrews never moved into the house and not a drop was used since his friend left, the water bills began increasing exponentially because the account was unmetered. That is how the bill ended up totaling $10,700.57.
Mr. Andrews, still now working as a Chicago cabbie, is also a hero. He was once a Chicago kid who was given a gun by Uncle Sam and told to kill during the Vietnam War.
“I was in Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang, up by Cambodia,” Mr. Andrews said.
“A couple things you just don’t forget. I remember this one night. We go on ambushes and they have trip wires. This guy was barely breathing. He was still alive. He wasn’t dead yet. The lieutenant emptied his whole clip in his head,” Mr. Andrews said. “You don’t forget that.”
And many could not forget Mr. Andrews’ story. And the near-broken man’s situation was fixed, one good deed at a time.
After our first story on Mr. Andrews aired, that angel investor stepped forward and offered to pay his $10,700 bill. But Mr. Andrews was determined to fight the bill on principle, so he went to City Hall with Edwards in pursuit of a fair bill.
They went through a runaround at City Hall, before finally getting to talk with the Department of Finance. The city told Mr. Andrews to hire a plumber, and once he did so, they would send workers from the Department of Water Management to ensure the city’s water valve was operating correctly.
It turned out the city’s water valve was on, but the indoor plumbing valve had been cut off. The pipes were at last reconnected, and water flowed through them for the first time in more than 10 years.
And a year later, in came the appliances.
“You got all Whirlpool stuff like I wanted,” Mr. Andrews said. “Wow!”
And that house where he’d never lived, but got socked with that water bill, became a home for the holidays.
“I’m just giving thanks to everybody that had a hand in this,” Mr. Andrews said.
There’s much more to tell about reconciling all the wrongs done to Mr. Andrews. We will be doing that soon.
MORE GETTING HOSED: Woman Charged $24,000 For Water She Never Used | One Woman Gets Hosed And Bulldozed By The City | Chicago’s Department Of Water Management Needs A Refresher Course On Customer Service | The City’s $61,000 Mistake Costs One Man The Sale Of His South Side Home | City Charges Church $6,000 For Water Even Though It Shouldn’t Receive A Bill | Vietnam Veteran Continues His Fight With The Department Of Water Management Over $10,700 Bill | Widow Charged Five Times What Her Neighbors Pay for Water | Veteran Rodney Andrews’ Biggest Battle Is Fighting City Over $10,000 Bill For Water He Never Used | Woman Gets $8,000 Water Bill For Vacant And Unlivable Home Where Water Was Not Being Used | Chicago Property Owners Paying For Water They Never Used | Home With No Pipes Gets Hit With Nearly $9,000 Water Bill | Water Department Can’t Calculate Simple Math Problem, So Man Gets Billed More Than $5,000 | 2 Investigators Save Business Owners $33,000 On Bungled Water Bill, But That’s Just One Case | Unmetered, Vacant Homes Rack Up Thousands Of Dollars In Water Bills
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Source: CBS Chicago | News Colony