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ActewAGL to impose Dog Owner Charge

By 6 November 2008 37

I have two dogs, but am also the unfortunate owner of a gas meter residing in my back yard (which ActewAGL put there a few years ago).

Speaking with ActewAGL today, I have found out that with the billing system upgrade currently underway there will no longer be the facility for customers to ring up to submit their own gas meter readings, and that bills will be estimated where a Meter Reader is unable to take a reading. The lady I was speaking to then went on to say that I would be able to schedule someone to come out to take a reading, however this would incur a charge should the actual reading vary from their estimate.

Now, this would almost be acceptable, but I have also found out that ActewAGL’s definition of “estimate” is more inline with the definition of “wild guess”.

My last bill was an “estimate”, it came in estimating around 3300MJ consumed which is in keeping with all of my other bills, however for my upcoming bill I took a reading so that everything would be accurate and was a little surprised to find consumption had risen to 39,485MJ – nearly 12 times that of the previous reading.

Now I’m pretty sure I didn’t use 12 times the gas in that billing cycle, or 6 times the gas over 2 billing cycles for that matter, but I am suspicious that ActewAGL may have been “estimating” my bills for longer than I was aware of, especially seeing as I’ve had dogs in that yard ever since I’ve lived there.

Anyway, I’m a little lost as to which path I should take, do I regularly pay a fee to have accurate readings, or do I rely on estimates that are way off only to pay a fortune when a reading is eventually taken?

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37 Responses to ActewAGL to impose Dog Owner Charge
#1
PBO2:51 pm, 06 Nov 08

ActewAGL always get this wrong, we have had the meter person give a wrong reading three times in a row all because he was too lazy to look properly.

#2
jake5552:58 pm, 06 Nov 08

PsydFX, I have had the same issue in the past, although not quite to that extent. As I recall the actual reading was over the estimate by about $250 – still annoying though.

Since that happened, I worked out my fortnightly average & now I pay slightly over that amount each fortnight via Bpay.

A pain if you pay your bills differently & it may not work for everyone with bank fees and such, but it’s nice to receive the bill each quarter & find I’m in credit for a few dollars.

#3
stray3:14 pm, 06 Nov 08

ummm…whats the dog reference sorry? and before i get blasted for asking, excuse my ignorance.

#4
stray3:16 pm, 06 Nov 08

oh..sorry. that was dumb. i got it now. never mind.

#5
p13:19 pm, 06 Nov 08

I am curious to know how I find out if and when ACTEW has been either reading or estimating my gas meter? Because I have no idea, and am also interested in what they do if they discover they have been charging extra for the last couple of years…?

#6
Holden Caulfield3:24 pm, 06 Nov 08

Get cats, or contract mdme workalot to train your dogs. :)

#7
PsydFX3:34 pm, 06 Nov 08

p1 said :

I am curious to know how I find out if and when ACTEW has been either reading or estimating my gas meter? Because I have no idea, and am also interested in what they do if they discover they have been charging extra for the last couple of years…?

There should be a line on your bill that says meter reading as of – or something similar, I would check, but they’ve taken down access to online invoices, even though they were still supposed to be available until the 13th of November.

#8
Davo1113:35 pm, 06 Nov 08

stray said :

ummm…whats the dog reference sorry? and before i get blasted for asking, excuse my ignorance.

oh dw dude, it wasn’t very clear.

Usually the AGL bloke just walks around the side of the house and reads your meter. If you have a dog, the guy isn’t prepared to get bitten/attacked etc. So instead they “estimate” your bill. To be honest, i think it’s tough luck for the OP.

#9
mdme workalot3:36 pm, 06 Nov 08

Back in your box Holden – I’d hate to have to sic the dog onto you :-P

#10
Deano3:40 pm, 06 Nov 08

There are a couple of more features in this “upgrade”. They will no longer issue electronic gas bills and you will no longer be able to access gas consumption or transaction data.

It’s almost as though the AGL part is about to break off from ActewAGL.

#11
tylersmayhem3:47 pm, 06 Nov 08

Get cats, or contract mdme workalot to train your dogs. :)

…I also hear that she’s superb at training cats…AND humans.

#12
Granny3:51 pm, 06 Nov 08

Well, that sucks! Basically what I would expect from ACTEWAGL however.

Did you know they sued me? Except I was never served so I knew nothing about the debt. It seems my husband was served, and they thought that would do since I’m his chattel and all.

Of course, if I’d known, I’d have said, “Pay it! For God’s sake, pay the usurous bloodsucking scumbags!” (and other things that I might have come up with if I’d really had some time to be creative).

That was nearly the cause for a good divorce. The worst fight we’ve ever had that he hadn’t told me. Although in fairness he did think it related to an earlier bill which had been sorted out.

I guess I should be grateful they didn’t serve the neighbour down the road or my three year old on my behalf.

It still makes my blood boil to think about it. If we were partners who weren’t married they’d have had to do me the courtesy of giving me the opportunity to defend myself.

I really feel that I was discriminated against due to my marital status. I am still contemplating a complaint to the Human Rights Commissioner.

In the meantime, we hates them precious.

*chuckle*

#13
PsydFX3:52 pm, 06 Nov 08

Davo111 said :

stray said :

ummm…whats the dog reference sorry? and before i get blasted for asking, excuse my ignorance.

oh dw dude, it wasn’t very clear.

Usually the AGL bloke just walks around the side of the house and reads your meter. If you have a dog, the guy isn’t prepared to get bitten/attacked etc. So instead they “estimate” your bill. To be honest, i think it’s tough luck for the OP.

I understand why they estimate bills, what I don’t understand is why they are taking away the ability for me to report my meter reading, seeing as the guy who is supposed to do it will never be able to.

#14
mdme workalot3:54 pm, 06 Nov 08

I sincerely hope that is said in jest tylers – as I said on the previous thread, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that issue.

#15
Davo1114:02 pm, 06 Nov 08

PsydFX said :

I understand why they estimate bills, what I don’t understand is why they are taking away the ability for me to report my meter reading, seeing as the guy who is supposed to do it will never be able to.

I bet people have been abusing it. As usual these days, a few people stuff it up for the rest of society.

#16
PsydFX4:10 pm, 06 Nov 08

Davo111 said :

PsydFX said :

I understand why they estimate bills, what I don’t understand is why they are taking away the ability for me to report my meter reading, seeing as the guy who is supposed to do it will never be able to.

I bet people have been abusing it. As usual these days, a few people stuff it up for the rest of society.

How can they abuse it? By giving false readings? Eventually they will get a reading and the bill will be paid for.

#17
LG4:37 pm, 06 Nov 08

The people that do the readings for Actew are completely incompetent. I was overcharged by over $1000 recently on my electricity bill.

end rant

#18
darkmilk4:40 pm, 06 Nov 08

Are you sure you read that meter right? The last digit is usually a fraction so that’s 3948.5 which compared to 3300 estimated seems more like being overcharged $5 for a pizza…

#19
PsydFX5:09 pm, 06 Nov 08

darkmilk said :

Are you sure you read that meter right? The last digit is usually a fraction so that’s 3948.5 which compared to 3300 estimated seems more like being overcharged $5 for a pizza…

Meters don’t show Megajoules they should Cubic Meters, meaning if I had a decimal place wrong I would be incorrectly complaining about a $28357 bill, rather than the $800 I am faced with.

#20
PsydFX5:10 pm, 06 Nov 08

erm, I meant: Meters don’t show Megajoules they “show” Cubic Metres

#21
deezagood5:37 pm, 06 Nov 08

Vote with your feet. Few people are aware of this, but you don’t HAVE to use ACTEWAGL for gas. Country energy (and others) also supply the ACT (they basically sub-contract the lines and service from ACTEW) and they will give you a quote for a fixed contract period. In our case, the quoted price was very slightly higher than the ACTEW price, but may end up being more economical if ACTEW’s prices rise (and they usually do). I have switched – primarily because I think ACTEWAGL are a pack of bastards (yep – data centre issues, and their false advertising campaign on the tellie) and I detest the monopoly that they seem to have here in the ACT. I feel a lot better about giving my money to Country Energy.

#22
harvyk15:49 pm, 06 Nov 08

deezagood, that’s exactly what I did, as soon as we could I got rid of ACTEWAGL. Basically the story goes that we moved out of a house, we call ACTEWAGL and let them know that we no longer live there, no problem, they give us a final bill. A few months later we get another one for 4 times the amount of our final bill. We call them up and ask what’s going on (as we hadn’t lived in our old place for nearly 3 months at this stage). It turns out the idiots forgot to get the reading properly. Mean while new people had moved into the house and yet ACTEWAGL wouldn’t believe me when I told them we haven’t been living there for at least 3 months, and the fact that we called up to have the service disconnected from the old house and reconnected at the new house on their system meant nothing. At that stage there was no comptition, now there is I get semi regular calls from them saying we are a valued customer and they would like us back.

#23
PsydFX5:51 pm, 06 Nov 08

deezagood said :

Vote with your feet. Few people are aware of this, but you don’t HAVE to use ACTEWAGL for gas. Country energy (and others) also supply the ACT (they basically sub-contract the lines and service from ACTEW) and they will give you a quote for a fixed contract period.

I didn’t know that, I might have to look into it, as long as they will allow me to phone in my Meter Reading though!

#24
Granny5:56 pm, 06 Nov 08

There’s nothing worse than a monopoly for shocking customer service.

#25
deezagood6:18 pm, 06 Nov 08

I found the Country Energy folks to be very helpful and cooperative – but I didn’t ask about the meter thing. Let me know what you find out!

#26
JC6:42 pm, 06 Nov 08

Deano said :

There are a couple of more features in this “upgrade”. They will no longer issue electronic gas bills and you will no longer be able to access gas consumption or transaction data.

It’s almost as though the AGL part is about to break off from ActewAGL.

They were never fully integrated in the first place.

The billing side was always done by AGL anyway. If you compare the payment systems of water/eletricity to a gas you will see the difference.

In anycase if these features are being removed then that is not a good thing.

#27
utah6:56 pm, 06 Nov 08

Apparently, in the distant future (and Europe) they have gas and electricity meters with radios in them so they can be read from the road, even if there are dogs on the premises.

#28
taco8:05 pm, 06 Nov 08

utah said :

Apparently, in the distant future (and Europe) they have gas and electricity meters with radios in them so they can be read from the road, even if there are dogs on the premises.

Apparently now that the Broadband over Power Line trials are being abandoned worldwide, they are free to use the technology for smart meters that communicate their usage over the same technology

#29
Footloose8:31 pm, 06 Nov 08

Ummm. Excuse me but wtf is this estimating business? Is it not the general exchange of goods that I buy a product and pay for the amount that is supplied…when did that go out of style?
This must have come in at the same time someone decided that $5 was a reasonable charge to send you an invoice (???) that arrives 1 week before due date and then it’s OK to charge you $5 late fee when you don’t pay the invoice exactly on time (huhum telstra).
We thought our last gas bill was fishy, having jumped from $400 to $650(compared to period last year), even though we were away for two 1/2 weeks. We accounted for it by the usual means – winter time, increasing costs etc – but reading about this estimate stuff makes me v. cranky.
Screw you Actew AGL.
Now…if only I could find a way to harvest all the gas coming from my husband…he he he

#30
ant8:54 pm, 06 Nov 08

Country Energy are bloody expensive if you live in the country. Probably OK in teh city though. And I must say, they are always there when you need them. My power pole is at around 900 metres (or more) and suffers sometimes, usually during horrific winds and rain, but when you call the help line, they’re there within hours. Swearing and staggering about in the rain, poking at things with long sticks, but they do the job. And then off they go to Forbes Creek or somewhere even deeper in the range.

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