How can ActewAGL continue to get away with the dubious billing practice of issuing accounts based on guesstimates? Surely the meter is there to be read so that accurate accounts can be issued.
I was alerted to this last year when, after being overseas for most of a billing period, I received a very large bill. When I queried this I was told that ActewAGL regularly issue accounts based on “estimates” of use. However, if I wanted to challenge the account I could read the meter and they would adjust.
I queried why they did not read the meter themselves and was informed that the agency contracted to do this was not employing enough readers so estimates were made supposedly based on previous use patterns. When I suggested they engage a contractor who would do the job properly and fully I was told that changing contractor would be difficult.
Since then the letters page of the Canberra Times has regularly printed correspondence detailing similar horror stories so it would appear that ActewAGL is continuing to use estimates.
Correspondents have commented on their dealings with ActewAGL staff using terms like “totally disinterested”, “useless”, “Orwellian”, “Kafkaesque”, or now “Alice in Wonderland”. One even suggested photographing your gas and electricity meters regularly and recording the dates so you have irrefutable evidence of the reading.
I would be interested in readers’ views, especially from a legal viewpoint, on whether this practice is acceptable. Personally, I regard such a practice as appalling. I cannot imagine any other business which could indulge in such behaviour and apparently get away with it.
Furthermore, as ActewAGL is partly owned by the ACT Government, which receives a dividend from it, I suggest the ACT Government should take some responsibility to ensure that concerns from residents are brought to the attention of the board of the joint venture.