3 On Your Side

Mesa man learns 'costly' lesson in reviewing bills

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Monday through Saturday, Mesa solid waste crews make their neighborhood rounds picking up yard waste found in special green barrels.

It's called the Green Yard Waste Program and Mesa is proud of it. In 2016 the program recycled more than 18,000 tons of yard waste.

Mariana Reyes is the marketing and communications specialist for the City of Mesa.

"The green barrel program that we offer to our residents is the opportunity for them to have their green waste material such as grass, small branches, tree trimmings those kind of things so they recycle their compost as versus being sent to the landfill."

The program is voluntary, but if you choose to participate, it costs $6.79 a month. About 33,000 Mesa residents have signed up,

However, David Bernson isn't one of them.

"I lived here since 2011, never had a green barrel, never ordered one."

Bernson says he may not be participating in the program, but he's certainly paying for it. And recently when he scrutinized his bill and saw a monthly charge for that green program.

"I'm not angry about it I just want to get it straightened out."

Bernson says he does have barrels furnished by the City of Mesa.

"Here's the barrels I have."

But they're not green. The black barrel is for trash and the blue one is for recyclables. And without much of a yard, Bernson says he has no reason to have a green barrel.

After adding up all the months he he's been charged for a green barrel, Bernson says it comes to around $126, so he contacted the City.

"They told us that they started the billing back in July of 2016 and after I heard that I was that's a pretty long time to not notice it."

Mesa reportedly did a visual inspection of Bernson neighborhood and believed a green barrel was at his property.

As a result, the City started billing Bernson and other residents when they discovered a green can that wasn't being paid for

As a precaution, the City maintains it sent residents like Bernson a notice.

"I never received one, I don't know if it blew away or what happened to it but I know if I had received a card I would have called."

Bernson says the City indicated it would be refunding his $126 in overpayments. And as it turns out, the green can the City saw, actually belonged to his neighbor, not him. With his neighbor's permission, Bernson showed us the green barrel.

“These are all my neighbor’s cans here, he's got the black one for the regular garbage, the blue one for recyclables and there's the green can that I was getting charged for that I didn't have."

So, what does the city have to say about the issue?

"In this particular instance we didn't hear back from the customer and that's why we just assumed if they didn't contact us, that they did have the container and they did want service and so we just automatically put that charge onto their account," Reyes said.

The City told 3 On Your Side the matter was being resolved and apparently it was. In fact, David went online and to check his account and guess what he discovered, a $126 credit.

"I just looked up my account online from Mesa on my phone and they have already credited me $126, so that's great, that's awesome."

Bernson says the entire ordeal should be a warning to anyone who goes through mail. He recommends always analyzing every single bill you open and make sure you're getting what you're paying for.

"I definitely know I wouldn't have gotten this refund without 3 On Your Side."

3 On Your Side certainly appreciates Mesa returning that $126 and again when you get your bills, look them over to ensure they're correct.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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