Clare Petre,
Ombudsman NSW
 
Sydney, Australia — (METERING.COM) — March 30, 2009 – There was a 19 percent increase in complaints involving estimated accounts in 2008 compared with 2007 in New South Wales, according to figures from the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON).

In 2008 there were 297 complaints, compared with 251 complaints in 2007.

Ombudsman NSW Clare Petre believes that increased security on properties and a greater number of secure apartment buildings could be responsible for the increase, giving rise to meter access issues.

Electricity supply regulations give energy companies the right to estimate accounts where there is no access to the meter.

Many of the complaints involved the customer receiving a “catch-up bill” correcting an earlier estimated bill after a meter read was done.

The EWON’s latest annual report also highlighted billing complaints as the leading area of customer complaints. The greatest concern noted was the increase in complaints involving credit issues, in particular complaints from customers who are facing disconnection or have been disconnected because of financial hardship. The number of complaints involving disconnection due to nonpayment increased 32 percent in 2008 up to 1,484 complaints from 1,121 complaints in 2007.

The EWON also noted an increase in complaints from customers who were disconnected in error when an account transfer between retailers does not go smoothly.