Warning – Inaccurate ACTEW bills

Grumpy Old Fart 20 January 2011 13

I opened my mail today to discover my water bill from ACTEW and if I hadn’t been sitting down I would have hit the floor instead I hit the ceiling. My normal bill had quadrupled for the last quarter. I phoned the ACTEW accounts section who agreed that there was something odd based on the history of my past bills and they asked me to go and read the meter.

I went outside and pushed the dirt and weeds away from the top of the meter box which showed it had not been recently opened. I then had to get some water to wipe down the meter cover so that I could read the meter and not surprisingly the meter showed a difference of 40kl for the quarter not the 127kl they were trying to charge me for.

It was very evident that the meter had not been read and that whoever made up the reading it was pie in the sky. I live in Weston Creek and urge other Rioters in the area to check the accuracy of their water usage bills.

I will be writing to ACTEW and Fair Trading as it was very obvious that no attempt had been made to read the meter.

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13 Responses to Warning – Inaccurate ACTEW bills
mangrovejack mangrovejack 3:24 pm 07 Jul 17

Funny that it’s now 2017 and this same situation is still occurring. The biggest issue is that when they finally do read the meter after giving a year of estimates is that it reads more than what they were estimating and move up a tier in regards to the water tariff and pay double the amount per kilolitre for the “excess” use.

Reprobate Reprobate 10:47 am 29 Mar 11

In the last 6 months, I have had 2 electricity billing problems with ACTEW. One was that it took three phone calls and a wrong bill to remove me from Greenchoice power once my TransACT bundle deal finished. The second issue was that my last bill showed 70 KWh usage of off-peak electricity on a meter that has been disconnected since I changed my hot water over in June 2009. I checked the meter myself and found the readings had not changed at all, so it was either a straight misread (hard to imagine as the supposed usage total had 3 different figures) or a very poor estimate. A couple of phone calls and an email with a photo of the meter reading later, ACTEW reissued an amended account.

BTW, it wasn’t until I started looking into PV solar for my home that I found out there are 5 different standard electricity plans available in the ACT (funny that ActewAGL doesn’t mention their availability in quarterly bills nor promote them in their otherwise wall-to-wall local advertising…)

I have changed from the Always At Home 1 default plan 1 to Always At Home Saver plan 2, by my calcs it will be a saving of about $30 a quarter straight off the bat. This plan is available to anyone in the ACT. There are 2 other plans available which may be of use to very high users (ie all electric heating etc) and 1 time-of-use plan for those with smart meters.

When I rang to change over, before I said which plan I wanted to go to (based on my rough calculations) the consultant ran a check on my last 4 quarterly bills to see what would be the best plan – she also found Saver plan 2 offered the most savings. As always, YMMV.

For anyone else interested, here is the link:

welkin31 welkin31 10:41 am 29 Mar 11

For years now our household electricity and water bills arrive like clockwork at the same time by email and are paid online. Bills are due to be paid early April and I just checked – electricity is there – but no water bill. So that is unusual – maybe ACTEW have some billing glitch.
I see ohpiem has raised the issue of – “….the increased cost of water in the Territory.”
This data shows we are paying vastly more than users downstream in the MIA – and even more than Cobar. What th’ ?

ohpiem ohpiem 9:35 am 29 Mar 11

I got this from the ACTEW website: http://www.actewagl.com.au/prices/home/act/water.aspx

Since 1 July 2010, the first 0.548 kilolitres supplied on average per day of the billing period is charged at $2 per kL; and for all water supplied in excess of 0.548 kilolitres on average per day of the billing period is charged at $4 per kL.

So over a billing period of 90 days, you are roughly looking at getting your first 45kL for $2 per kL; and anything more than that at $4 per kL

This is in addition to a $92 pa supply charge.

Doesn’t solve the OPs original problem of ACTEW guesstimating his usage; but perhaps could make other posters aware of the increased cost of water in the Territory. We ain’t getting that brand new dam for free!

breda breda 2:40 am 29 Mar 11

Funny you should mention it, my previous bill was $165 and the latest one is $1,076. True, I had a leaking tap during that period, but it seems way OTT. Thanks for raising the issue, I will certainly query it.

gazket gazket 7:07 pm 28 Mar 11

my water bill 15 / 3 to 14 / 6 / 2010 47kl= $ 91.65
new bill today 1 / 1 to 17 / 03 /2011 109kl = $335.75

they are off their heads I will be ringing ACTEW tomorrow .

dtc dtc 4:09 pm 20 Jan 11

FWIW, I would read unable to ‘reasonably read’ a meter as not only including physical issues (too dirty etc) but other issues such as a lack of staff or someone being sick on that day etc. Not that I know anything about it – indeed, it may be the case that the contractor and ACTEW “know” the meters are only going to be read 3 times per year rather than 4 because that saves everyone some costs; and they come up with some ‘reasonable’ sounding reason for any failures that are detected.

Grumpy Old Fart Grumpy Old Fart 12:19 pm 20 Jan 11

Thank you for your feedback and comments and love the power of the collective to raises points I have overlooked. The meter is located adjacent to the front driveway and letter box. When I say weeds and dirt I meant only small weeds and sufficient dirt that shows the cover was not lifted much the same way as cobwebs indicate that something may not have been disturbed recently. There was no significant obstruction to opening or accessing the meter.

Deano #5 I like the suggestion I wonder if I could prepay for the next five years based on previous usage history

DTC #4 Interestingly when I spoke with ActewAGL accounts they asked me to provide the number displayed on the meter and stated a new invoice would be sent. There was no resistance from ActewAGL so it makes me suspect this is not an uncommon issue hence my warning.

Deano Deano 11:40 am 20 Jan 11

I wish ACTEW would over read my meter. That way I could prepay for next year’s water at this year’s prices. It would save me a packet.

dtc dtc 9:43 am 20 Jan 11

Does ACTEW actually read the meter for every person for every bill?

here we go

standard ACTEW Contract

8.1 We will arrange for our water meters on your premises to be read each account period, unless we
estimate your consumption for a period as permitted by 8.8 to 8.10.

8.8 We may estimate the quantity of water supplied to your premises in the circumstances described in the Water Metering Code.

8.9 Where possible, estimates will be calculated with reference to an adjacent account period or periods.

8.10 If you are invoiced on the basis of an estimate, we may adjust a later invoice to reflect the actual
consumption, once known or more accurately estimated.

water metering code

A Water Utility must read Meters as frequently as is required to properly discharge its obligations under the Consumer Protection Code with respect to Customer Accounts.

Customer protection code
Despite clause 13.1(2), if a Utility is not able to reasonably or reliably base a Customer Account on a reading of the Customer’s meter, the Utility may provide the Customer with an account based on estimated consumption, as provided in the relevant Technical Code.

in other words, if they can’t ‘reasonably’ read the meter, they can estimate.

Nonetheless, an estimate based on 4X the normal account is a bit odd.

In the long run, however, it should work out – the next time someone actually reads the meter (properly) and discovers the reading is less than it was the last bill, it will be noticed.

Keijidosha Keijidosha 9:37 am 20 Jan 11

FYI, your beef is with ActewAGL, not ACTEW Corp. A bit of information that might be useful is that meter reading is outsourced to Fieldforce, so don’t be surprised if there is a bit of buck-passing in your quest for justice.

With regards to the meter itself, you mentioned that yours was covered in dirt and weeds. Don’t be surprised if there is a claim made that the meter was not readily accessible. It is your responsibility to ensure that the meter is unobstructed in order for it to be read. If a meter cannot be easily accessed by the contractor they are obliged to simply estimate usage (I believe this is based on an average of previous readings for the same quarter).

eyeLikeCarrots eyeLikeCarrots 9:27 am 20 Jan 11

Could the dirt and weeds obstructing the water meter have made it hard for the ACTEW staff to get to it ?

Inappropriate Inappropriate 9:15 am 20 Jan 11

Isn’t it common knowledge that if any meter reader can’t find the meter they just pull a number out of their arse?

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