Tool

Transparent bills

Customers receive understandable bills with full information on the services that they are being charged for.

DESCRIPTION

Transparent billing means to provide full information on the details of a bill in an understandable manner. It allows customers to see what they are being charged for and explains possible changes in the tariff.1

PURPOSE & LINK TO INTEGRITY

If customers see what they are being charged for, they may be more likely to pay their bills.1 Increased transparency of bills gives customers the chance to cross-check their water charges and—if necessary—to file a complaint if the amounts do not correspond to the amounts agreed upon when the connection was made.2 In addition, accurate billing is an important communication tool that can encourage water consumers to engage in water conservation. 1

KEY REQUIREMENTS

  • Do you have consumption-based tariffs?
  • Do you have a billing system in place that the transparent billing needs to be aligned with? (Also check the tool Billing system)

HOW TO

Strategies for a transparent water bill include:3

  • Using litres per day rather than other units that are harder to understand
  • Distinguishing charges for drinking water from charges for other services such as wastewater
  • Providing simple comparisons of past water use to help consumers understand how their water use changes over time.

You might also consider getting ISO certification. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standard bodies. The following ISO standard is applicable for this tool:

ISO 14452:2012 Network services billing — Requirements (https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:14452:ed-1:v1:en): The purpose of this International Standard is to provide a market-based and market-sensitive way of dealing with the concerns of customers about the billing practices of utility network service providers. Billing is a major source of complaints to companies and industry ombudsmen.

KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS

Singh, S., 2013, The Bill of Confusion , Asian Water and Wastewater, http://sahanasingh.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/the-bill-of-confusion/, accessed 19.11.2015

Pacific Institute, no year, Water Rates Communication and Education, Pacific Institute, USA

GENERAL EXAMPLES

MajiSMS in Nairobi4

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

A good example that fosters transparent bills is MajiSMS, which allows customers to check their account balances and meter readings via SMS.4

FURTHER  READINGS

GIZ, 2012, WAVEPlus training programme. Report of the Water Integrity Training for Private Water Operators and Staff of the Ministry of Water and Environment in Uganda, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Association of Private Water Operators (APWO), Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda

K’akumu, 2007, Toward effective governance of water services in Kenya, Water Policy 9 (2007) 529–543, IWA Publishing, UK

Moneymaker, C. and Kennedy, L. A., no year, Billing transparency: “See-through” processes improve every step of the emergency medicine billing cycle, Medical Management Professionals, USA

Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, no year, Bill balance and meter reading. MajiSMS, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya, http://www.nairobiwater.co.ke/, , accessed April 2013

IRC, 2013, Applying a life-cycle costs approach to water, International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), The Netherlands

SAMED, 2008, SAMED Policy and Procedure. Transparent invoicing model, South African Medical Device Industry Association (SAMED), Republic of South Africa

Konanykhin, A., 2012, Transparent billing may save governments billions, PRNewswire article, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/transparent-billing-may-save-governments-billions-140846763.html, accessed 19.11.2015

FULL REFERENCES

  1. Singh, S., 2013, The Bill of Confusion , Asian Water and Wastewater, http://sahanasingh.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/the-bill-of-confusion/, accessed 19.11.2015
  2. Konanykhin, A., 2012, Transparent billing may save governments billions, PRNewswire article, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/transparent-billing-may-save-governments-billions-140846763.html, accessed 19.11.2015
  3. Pacific Institute, no year, Water Rates Communication and Education, Pacific Institute, USA
  4. Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, no year, Bill balance and meter reading. MajiSMS, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya, http://www.nairobiwater.co.ke/, , accessed April 2013
Last updated 12 April 2019

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