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ActewAGL to impose Dog Owner Charge

By PsydFX 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?

What’s Your opinion?


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ActewAGL to impose Dog Owner Charge
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burkes08 3:55 pm 08 Nov 08

Well the service must have gone downhill lately. After the 2003 bushfires ACTEWAGL were fantastic in getting a new powerpole up in my burnt out yard and getting electricity connected.

PsydFX 11:01 am 07 Nov 08

To be perfectly honest, I had assumed that people walking around taking meter readings was a thing of the past, surely in this day and age we have the technology to remotely complete this task, especially in my circumstance considering it’s a fairly recently installed service.

I do feel a little awkward knowing that someone has been letting themselves into my backyard, I mean who is this person? they could be scoping out my house and taking note of when I’m not home for all I know, and even though it’s turning out to be inconvenient, I am kind of happy that my dogs are preventing these people just walking in.

GregW 9:52 am 07 Nov 08

“1. Being charged a $30/quarter service charge for being connected to the gas network over summer when we don’t use anything (only gas heating at our place).”

Many new apartment developments use only electric appliances to avoid the costs of running gas through the building, however some of these developments also use central gas water heating. It is only rational then that ActewAGL charge a $30 connection fee each quarter to each apartment owner (which has no gas connection) rather than a single connection fee to body corporate.

sepi 9:43 am 07 Nov 08

It annoys me that they are constantly sending out notices saying they need to inspect our backyard for trees/powerline/power pole/whatever. The timeframe they give is a month long, and you have to ring them if you have dogs and don’t just want them wandering in whenever they like.

Last time they turned up with no notice, but luckily we were home to let them in. But then they left and left the side gate open.

frontrow 8:51 am 07 Nov 08

Doesn’t ACTEWAGL own TRANSACT? They could use that to collect usage data. The whole idea of physical meter reading seems antiquated and expensive to me.

pug206gti 8:41 am 07 Nov 08

My three Actew gripes:
1. Being charged a $30/quarter service charge for being connected to the gas network over summer when we don’t use anything (only gas heating at our place).
2. Them sending me a sizeable guestimation bill the first time after we’d moved into the place causing some palpitations. I should add they were happy to wipe the charge altogether because obviously when you move in in November you won’t likely be needing the heating.
3. The way they spring you with $500+ in both gas and electricity bills at once and then expect you to be able to pay the lot in 14 days. We did actually get organised after the 2nd time that happened and put money away early…

Lenient 9:05 pm 06 Nov 08

Train your dog to read the meter.

ant 8:54 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.

Footloose 8:31 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

taco 8:05 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

utah 6:56 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.

JC 6:42 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.

deezagood 6:18 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!

Granny 5:56 pm 06 Nov 08

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

PsydFX 5:51 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!

harvyk1 5:49 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.

deezagood 5:37 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.

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