“It’s not about the money; it is about not accepting that authorities have a ‘carte blanche’ to fleece their citizens and customers.” This is how Joe Ribeiro, a Portuguese-Canadian retired bank manager who owns a home in Vilas Alvas, near Vale do Lobo, justifies his ongoing wrangle with water supplier Infralobo.
The 63-year-old is demanding that Infralobo pay back around €110 in fees that it charged Ribeiro last year to turn his water back on after it had been cut off, as the former banker says that both Infralobo and the local council failed to inform him that his water supplier would be changing.
Speaking to the Resident, Ribeiro said the first he heard that his water would start being supplied by a new entity was when he was packing his bags for Canada – where he lives for most of the time – in April 2014.
“So I sent a letter to the local council with my contact information in Canada so that they could inform me of any changes,” he explained. He even left money with his representative in Portugal to pay any water bills received while he was away.
The problem, says Ribeiro, is that Infralobo never sent him any notification while he was in Canada.
When he returned in August, his representative told him that his water had been turned off and that he had had to pay around €110 to have it reinstated.
“If my representative hadn’t dealt with the situation, I would have arrived from Canada to find I had no water,” he explained.
After a meeting with Infralobo representatives, Ribeiro was told that the company sent letters and bills to his home, and that its policy is to not give refunds.
“The fact that I wasn’t using any water should have been an indication that I wasn’t in Portugal,” he pointed out.
He says he now wants to get the word out about Infralobo’s “extortive actions”.
As the Resident has already reported, homeowners from Vale do Garrão, Quinta Jacintina and Vilas Alvas near Vale do Lobo have been complaining for nearly a year over “disproportionate and unfair” water bills charged by Infralobo which, in many cases, upped users’ bills by hundreds of euros (see most recent story https://www.portugalresident.com/homeowners-take-a-stand-against-%E2%80%9Cillegal%E2%80%9D-water-charges)
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]