Wellington, New Zealand — (METERING.COM) — July 27, 2012 – Smart meters were not the cause of the high electricity bills for a group of customers in New Zealand whose meters were changed by their electricity retailer last year – directly at least, according to the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner (EGCC), in its latest annual report.
In its investigation after customers had complained to the Commissioner, it was found that there had been delays in certifying the meters, which meant they could not be read. Once the meters were certified, the reading was for a longer period and led to higher bills than usual.
“It turned out the high bills were back bills for electricity used since the meters were installed,” said Commissioner Judi Jones. “From the customer’s point of view, the increase in bills followed the change in the meter.”
According to the Commissioner’s report, approximately 40 percent of the more than 2,700 complaints received pertained to billing issues. The other most common issues were customer service, the meter, supply, debt and disconnection.
Some of the other issues affecting groups of customers that were considered by the Commissioner were:
- Some companies began taking a firmer line with customers who owed money or had difficulty paying their bills. One company began giving customers three days notice they should move from post-pay to prepay or switch to another retailer, but investigation showed the company’s own terms and conditions said customers should get 30 days notice.
- A company introduced a new billing system, but incorrect data entry meant a group of more than one hundred customers received bills that were lower than they should have been. When this issue was identified, the customers then faced back bills.
- A company did not have an agreement to use meters provided by another company. This caused problems for customers who switched from one company (which owned the meters) to the other.
- A company’s door-to-door sales personnel were quoting low prices that encouraged people to switch suppliers. After switching, customers found they were being charged at higher prices than those quoted.
“Once we raise these issues with the companies they usually get sorted out quickly,” Jones said.