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Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

Semiconductor

BACKGROUND

Let me set the scene. We are two people in a house (in our sixties) and our electricity bill has been around $1000 each quarter for over 12 months. Around 50-60 kWh average daily usage. Now this is really really high for two people, no dependants, in a house on our own. However we have lived with it, even though the little "house" picture shows us that we ae using far more electricity that others in the area.

 

THE LATEST BILL

To our horror, the latest bill is $2307.71. A jump of over 100%! 100kWH average daily usage.

 

TO BE CLEAR

We have not changed anything. We have not added a new appliance, a new washing machine, nothing. What has changed is that AGL installed a Smart Meter in March this year. That's the change. 

The little house picture shows that we are using the equivalent of 20 people's electricity compared to houses in the area! There are two of us.

 

MY CONVERSATIONS

I have now spoken to frontline support a AGL, someone in the resolution team, and a manger in the resolution team. Here is the story I am given:

  1. The reading are correct because AGL says they are
  2. If they check the meter and it is faulty then we have to pay for the fact they checked the meter
  3. The onus is on us to invalidate their readings
  4. The bill is correct....because the bill is correct...unless we can prove otherwise
  5. We have to turn everything off in the house and spend time messing about with appliances (where we know there has not been a change) to prove to AGL that their bill is faulty
  6. Otherwise, the bill stands because.... it is their bill!

HOWEVER

  1. AGL is providing a service to us, and we are entitled to pay fair value for a service rendered. This is an impossible bill, and we should not have to pay for a service incorrectly rendered
  2. If AGL installed a smart meter, it is their meter that is making the readings, their system that is doing the calculation, and their system that is generating the invoice. It is beyond belief that AGSL says "trust us because you should" when a bill is provided that cannot, just cannot be correct.
  3. We did not ask for a meter change. AGL put in a "smart meter" for, on the surface, to SAVE MONEY on the people who now do not need to read meters, and, on the surface, to institute some sort of scam where they can now charge double, with the response: it is what it is (heard that somewhere else?)

And the onus is totally thrown back on us to prove them wrong. 

This totally unacceptable.

 

I am going to write to AGL one more time, and then straight to the media and the ombudsman. I cannot be alone receiving this appalling behaviour, and it is time that companies like AGL start to realise that there are customers with rights, and the supplier's role is to serve the customer, not to issue bills based on calculations that the consumer has zero control over, and then put the onus back on the customer to prove them wrong.

 

Does this resonate with anyone else?

 

5 REPLIES 5
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Re: Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

Switched-on

absolutely my experience at the moment - i have tried to get on their telephone support line and two times their line just drops out. The ombudsman will be my next call as well

 

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Re: Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

Semiconductor

It appears no-one from AGL bothers to read these and reply either

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Re: Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

AGL Community Manager

Hi @JeffreyT , it's difficult to address issues like this within the community because we don't have access to your account or the history of this case. You've stated that you intend to speak to the Resolutions team again, and that's the course of action I would advise. There is also the Complaints form on this page if you'd prefer to go down that route.

 

There are a whole range of factors that can contribute to unexpectedly high bills, and without some investigation and troubleshooting it can be difficult to say what factor or combination of factors is to blame in this case. A faulty smart meter is rare, but it is one possible cause, so having that looked into may be worthwhile. As far as I'm aware, you would only be responsible for the cost of a technician if the meter is found to not be faulty, so it makes sense for you to rule out other possibilities first.

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Re: Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

Semiconductor

Hi David

Thanks for the response.

I have already written to the dispute resolution team as a last resort. The to the ombudsman to help resolve this.

 

The issue I have is exactly the issue you raise - it is up to ME to prove the bill wrong, even though I am the customer The only assistance AGL offers, as a service provider, is to "check the meter" and a bunch of web links. I don't find that satisfactory at all i.e. the bill is always right, unless someone can prove it wrong.

 

For the amount of money paid in the lifetime of a customer (say, 60 years at $4000/year - $240,000) you would expect a process where AGL would be able to provide some support e.g. send someone out (yes, at AGL:'s cost) to assess what could be going wrong, either at our end or at AGL's end.

 

The concept of "you are the customer, however we will charge what we like unless you can prove we are wrong" is from the dark ages. Most other companies have discarded this approach, as they realise that positive word of mouth and a focus on the customer leads to huge growth for the business.

 

 

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Re: Impossibly high bill - and no options provided except "prove us wrong"

AGL Community Manager

@JeffreyT , I hear you and I absolutely agree that positive word of mouth is invaluable. Customer satisfaction matters a great deal to everyone I know at AGL.

 

I think it's not so much that the onus is on the customer to "prove the bill is wrong" but rather that the customer is usually in a much better position than AGL to assess the most common causes of a high bill within their own household - for example, are there new or faulty appliances, changed usage patterns or environment, estimated bills, and so on.

 

It's a challenge to address, because bill shock is a common issue and in the vast majority of cases the cause of the increased usage is something more common than a faulty meter. If a technician was sent to check for meter faults as the initial step in every report of a high bill, this would result in everyone paying a great deal more on every bill, even if only a portion of the cost was passed along!

None of this is to say AGL doesn't make mistakes, of course we can and do get things wrong sometimes and will always try to remedy those situations.

 

I hope this is resolved to your satisfaction soon. Please do drop back again and let us know when you discover what the cause was - you never know what might be helpful to other people having the same problems. One customer I recall who found their usage mysteriously high eventually discovered after almost a year that their neighbour's electrician had wired a new air-conditioner onto their meter rather than their neighbour's!

 

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