Residents confused by a mailing from a water line warranty company bearing the City of Maricopa logo might be throwing them away, but City Hall is encouraging them to participate.
“It looks like a scam,” said Jay Robertson, a Rancho El Dorado resident since 2002. “Why is the City involved in this? This is between us and the water company.”
A news release by the City of Maricopa late Tuesday explained an announcement to residents had been planned before the letters went out. “Unfortunately, the email alerting the City to the date of the mailing did not make it through the City’s firewall, so the mailing was sent without prior notification of residents.”
SLWA is asking residents to enroll in its repair coverage program to fix damaged water lines on private property. The program is $5.33 monthly or $63.96 annually. Enrollment is voluntary. The letter, which is nearly identical to a sample letter presented to city council in September, reminds residents that homeowners are responsible for repairs to water lines between their homes and the water utility connection.
This was reiterated in a quote attributed to Mayor Christian Price in Friday’s news release: “Many homeowners do not know that damage to the service lines on their property is their responsibility to repair. In the event of a service line emergency, the homeowner is responsible for scheduling the repair and covering the associated cost. As the City of Maricopa homes age along with the infrastructure serving them, SLWA repair plans provide homeowners with an optional peace of mind solution so they can be better prepared in the event of these unexpected repairs.”
The agreement with the city allows SLWA to conduct up to three campaigns per year comprised of up to six mailings to make homeowners aware of the service. The company also has the right to use the city logo on letterhead, bills and marketing materials.
The city receives 50 cents “per product” as a license fee.
The program is endorsed by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and used by the City of Phoenix.
Robertson still wasn’t sold on the idea of paying a third party for repairs for which he normally pays a plumber. “It’s like pouring sand down a gopher hole,” he said.
The program is meant to cover residences served by a utility and those on wells and septic tanks.
Not all who receive the notifications from SLWA are homeowners. The company uses a mailing list drawn from zip codes with the four-digit extension and they also purchase a list based on deeds, Ashley Shiwarski of Utility Service Partners, which runs the marketing, told the council in earlier discussions.
The news release also included comments from John Kitzie, CEO of SLWA parent HomeServe USA: “Our service plans not only cover the cost of the repair; they also provide homeowners with reputable, local contractors who will do the best possible job.”
The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Though 17 of the 21 reviews there were negative, BBB takes into consideration a company’s longevity, response to complaints relative to the size of the business and transparency, among other factors, when deciding a rating.
According to the city, a second letter from SWLA is scheduled to be mailed on June 4.