Saint John Water gets creative with bill collection tactics

Saint John — Saint John Water is being forced to resort to aggressively creative methods of collecting overdue bill payments, with about 2,400 of 17,000 accounts in arrears. City council was told on Monday that the utility is owed about $1.5 million as a result of Saint Johners refusing to pay.

Mayor Mel Norton has said the city will make provisions for those who haven’t paid due to financial troubles, but for other deviants, justice will come swiftly. “We’ll start by writing strongly worded letters, some of which will be quite threatening and written in those magazine cutout-type letters, like in a ransom note,” explained the mayor.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.41.00 PM“If that doesn’t scare them to death, we’ll try the shaming tactic — and this one’s my personal favourite,” Norton elaborated with a sly wink to those at the council meeting. “I’ll post embarrassing statuses about them on my own personal Facebook account, and tag them so all their friends know they haven’t paid. I’ll get Greg to write up some Kijiji ads saying things like ‘If anyone’s seen so-and-so, he owes Saint John Water $500 — what a turd.’ We’ll take out ads in the Telegraph-Journal calling them out on owing money — imagine a front-page story listing all these deadbeats! It’ll be hilarious.”

Rob Morris, a pilot who happened to be at the meeting, said he wouldn’t mind flying a banner behind his plane featuring the names of people whose accounts are in arrears. “I’ll circle the city a few times to make sure everyone sees — they’ll be humiliated,” he said with a chuckle.

Most Saint John residents are refusing to pay because the city’s water is, well, disgusting. “It tastes like mildewed bull semen,” spat uptown resident Walter Fletcher, standing up to voice his concerns. “We’re the laughingstock of the province for just how bad the water tastes and smells — I’m not paying for it. You really can’t embarrass or shame me, so you’re going to have to figure out where my money’s buried and come after it yourself.”

Saint John Water employees, at Fletcher’s suggestion, are planning to rent metal detectors from Canadian Tire to search for change that might be buried in these water-thieves’ back yards.

“I don’t care how the water tastes and smells,” proclaimed Norton, ending the meeting. “Just buy bottled water like I do, or pay for city water. Otherwise, we’re coming for you.”

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