Sunday 25 September 2016

Irish Water fiasco goes on with deluge of bills

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

Thousands of anti austerity water protesters march through Dublin city centre on March 21, as
Thousands of anti austerity water protesters march through Dublin city centre on March 21, as "just like the Bourbons, Irish Water appears to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing" (Getty Images)

Only Irish Water could have come up with it - "a dry run" to deluge the country with 39,000 bills.

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Given the history of the company to date, what could possibly go wrong? Whatever about leaky pipes, the utility is not taking any chances with payment, and so 750 people are on standby at a call centre in Cork, on the off-chance there might be a few queries.

The company has described the billing process as a significant task, and has also said it expects there will be errors in its database.

Indeed. Problems or not, over the next weeks, people will receive bills either through the post or by email in every region of the country.

In total, some 1.7 million bills are to be issued. In view of all the broken pipes, the households that are still under boil-water notices and others households that for one reason or another may be without water altogether, one might wonder whether 750 at the customer support desk will be enough.

And no one is to feel left out. Even those who are not customers, such as people on group water schemes, will be included.

In Africa, there is a saying that if a man is destined to drown, he will drown even in a spoonful of water. Many must now wonder, given its past PR disasters, whether there is any saving the utility from itself. It has accepted that it will face "challenges" during the initial billing period. It has also admitted having incomplete customer information and unregistered customers. Given all of this, the dispatching of invoices seems like the ultimate triumph of hope over experience.

An Irish Water spokesperson acknowledges that: "In these cases, we may not have the right billing details and it's possible that the details we have may not be 100pc correct."

After all the convulsions, back-flips and somersaults, just like the Bourbons, Irish Water appears to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

To coin a phrase: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it think.

Irish Independent

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