Friday, 27 September 2013

The electricity bill landed

in the letter box yesterday. We had been expecting it. The meter reader was around last week. Bills have a way of arriving very promptly.
Now our use of electricity is not excessive. We are careful. We turn lights off when we leave the room. I put the computer into stand-by mode if I am leaving it for a while and turn it off at night. We limit the amount we use heating and do it in the most efficient manner we can manage. I do the minimum amount of ironing. (That is not a hardship.) If I need to use the oven then I try to do more than one thing at once - or a meal that will do us at least twice.
We also have some solar panels.
The Senior Cat uses some power in his beloved Shed. It is not an excessive amount of power and, recently, his circular saw has been out of action. That would use more power than anything else.
Our electricity use has not changed over the past three months. (We are billed quarterly.) We were expecting a bill at around the same level as before.
It was much higher. It was much, much higher. The Senior Cat puzzled over it. Then he handed it to me to see if I could make sense of it.
I read it. I asked him for the previous bill. He hauled it out of the filing cabinet. I did some arithmetic.
According to the new bill we have used almost twice as much electricity this quarter. We sat there staring at the bill in disbelief. It is still, by some people's standards, not a large bill but it is a large bill for us.
There is something wrong here. I can only assume that there is something wrong with the meter - or the electronic equipment which now reads the meter when the meter reader takes the reading.
Our problems do not end there. I headed off to the company's website to try and find an e-mail to contact them. It seems the only way you can do that is to set up an on-line account. The Senior Cat refuses to use on-line accounts. Nothing I can say or do will convince him to use them. I could try phoning them - but that would involve hours on the phone waiting for a "customer service officer" and then being passed from one to another to another. All of them would tell me "we are right and you must be mistaken about the amount of power you were using". 
I found an e-mail address in another place. I sent a message there hoping that it will be passed on and they will contact me. I rather doubt it. I'll give them today though.
After that I am going to write an old-fashioned snail-mail letter. I am going to make sure they sign for it at the other end so there will be no doubt about the delivery. I will be polite. I will be firm. I will advise them that no we have not used twice the amount of electricity - and no, we will not be paying for their error. They can pay me for my time.


Frances said...

Cat: Not an uncommon experience, unfortunately.
A reader wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald about querying a bill. Did they read the meter? Yes, was the response. When he pursued this she reluctantly went away and checked, and assured him that that was so. An employee had called at his house and read the meter.
Which was when he pointed out to her that this was quite odd as the house had burned down 3 months previously.
On the whole the companies are implacable.

Jan said...

I remember reading about the event Frances has mentioned in the comment.

I live by myself in a small apartment and use much the same sort of measures you do. I have a gas heater and electricity is used only in ignition unless I turn the fan on. I could even light it with a match were I so inclined.

My stove is gas. Electricity bill was up by 30% on similar time last year. I know prices went up but not by that amount.

They should pay you? Indeed, they should. I doubt you'll get it, but just perhaps you may. My sister had an ongoing dispute with a bank some years ago. After it was settled, she invoiced them for time, car trips, phone calls etc. Much to her surprise, they paid it.

Anonymous said...

Wish you luck in getting that pay!