The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Billing error & charges case studies

Further information:


A high bill due to estimated read error

A customer received a gas bill for an estimated read that was higher than she expected. She knew her usage patterns hadn't changed and she'd been away from the property for a significant period during the billing cycle.

She contacted the retailer, which couldn't help, so she approached EWOQ for assistance. We suggested she may have a gas leak, so she hired a plumber to investigate and confirmed there was no leak.

We then investigated further. The retailer acknowledged there was an issue in the region - a reader had been submitting estimated reads but marking them as actual readers. The retailer gave the customer with a $200 credit on her account and dealt with their employee's work performance.

The customer was satisfied with the outcome, as it resolved the high bill issue but also meant she'd be paying less than the same period of the previous year.

Billing delay

In August 2016, a customer moved into a new home and opened an account with an electricity retailer. Shortly after moving in, a meter read was conducted. When the customer did not receive a bill, they contacted their retailer who advised them that there was a delay in billing, but to expect one soon. The next meter reading was in November and again the customer did not receive a bill. They contacted their retailer again and was told a second time that they would receive a bill in the near future. After contacting their retailer many times, the customer still did not know when a bill would be issued.

On investigation, the issue was flagged as a potential systemic issue. The retailer acknowledged that the billing delays may appear to be systemic as other customers had also been affected, however, the cause of the issues for this customer appeared to be individual and attributed to isolated causes. In all cases presented, the retailer identified the underlying causes to be individual circumstances, rather than one single systemic cause.  The retailer acknowledged that billing delays inconvenience customers and they have a range of rectification actions and remedies in place. The retailer recognised that proactive contact with customers experiencing billing delays would have likely prevented escalation. As a result, proactive customer contact will be implemented as part of the retailer's continuous improvement framework and ongoing remediation plan. 

Account mix up

A business owner claimed he was constantly sent the next door's business account and that the energy supplier kept turning up to disconnect his business claiming he had not paid his security deposit. He then received a high account which he claimed was his neighbour's account. He telephoned the energy supplier several times to advise they had the wrong address in their computer system. The business owner stated he had been at the address for seven years and his neighbour had been there for about 10 years. He said the problem started when he had taken over sole charge of the business and changed the account name. The business owner stated that after changing the name on the account he was sent a request for a new security deposit. When he queried this it was reduced to more than half. He paid the security deposit but when he made further contact with the energy supplier they asked him if he was his neighbour.

When EWOQ contacted the energy supplier it could not determine the correct address from its computer system or from the Council records. It was agreed to send someone to check the meter numbers against the business and the correct street address and update the computer system accordingly. The customer advised that after the energy supplier had checked the meters and corrected his details on the system he did not have any further problems.

Site visit not received

A customer advised that there had been a bad storm in his area and he lost power at his home. The customer noticed his neighbours' lights were still on so he contacted the distributor who suggested he check the switches on his meter board. After the customer checked the switches his power was restored and he subsequently contacted the distributor and advised his power had been restored. The customer later received a bill from his retailer with a charge of $250.00 for a site visit. When the customer contacted his retailer he was advised this was a pass through charge from the distributor. A pass through charge is a charge from the distributor passed directly onto the customer from the retailer. The customer contacted the distributor who advised a crew had attended his premises to restore his power. The customer disputed this and as he had solar PV panels installed at around the same time as the storm, thought the distributor may have had the work orders confused.

We investigated the issue and contacted the distributor to request an explanation for the charge, and documentation regarding the work order. Although the distributor's work crew was in the immediate area the crew did not attend the customer's home to restore his power. As a result, we were able to negotiate with the distributor for a reversal of the pass through charge.

Unexplained charges for gas services

Routine work was undertaken by the gas distributor at a three-unit residential complex. At some point a gas leak was identified and gas at the customer’s property was disconnected. A gas fitter was contracted to identify the source of the leak, however no leak was detected and the gas supply was restored to the customer’s property. The following week, the customer received an invoice in the mail for $94 relating to the services provided by the gas fitter. The customer contacted his gas retailer to enquire about the charges, however, an explanation could not be provided.

Outcome: On investigation, the distributor acknowledged that during the routine meter change a suspected gas leak was found. The gas supply to the customer’s property was disconnected as a precaution until a gas fitter could attend. The customer had been advised by the distributor’s representative that he would be billed if any work was undertaken on his property by the gas fitter. The gas fitter failed to find any leak however, in the process, the customer’s pilot light was extinguished. The gas fitter assisted the customer to relight the pilot, which involved the removal of wooden panelling around the hot water system and the invoice concerned this service. As a result of EWOQ’s investigation, the gas fitter agreed to waive the invoice for $94.

Increased tariff on amended gas account

In 2014, the customer noticed that he was not receiving the Queensland State Government Aged Pension Concession. He contacted his gas retailer who applied the concession and amended the previous 12 months’ bills. On reviewing the amended bills, the customer noticed that he had been charged at a higher tariff rate than that on the original invoices. On contacting his gas retailer, they were not able to explain the higher tariff rate, which led to him raising a dispute with EWOQ.

Outcome: EWOQ investigated the customer’s complaint and found that his natural gas account was originally established and billed on a business tariff, not a residential one. The retailer advised that this was because the original account had been on a business tariff and had not been changed to a residential tariff when the customer moved into the property. The request by the customer to apply his pension concession prompted the account to revert to a residential tariff, and amended billing reflected the higher tariff rate. As a gesture of good will, the gas retailer applied a credit of $46.67 to the customer’s account, which equated to the difference in the two tariff rates over the amended billing period. The gas retailer additionally applied another credit of $53.33 to the account for the inconvenience experienced, making total credits of $100.

Water bill received after isolation valve switched off

The customer contacted his DR on many occasions complaining that the isolation valve (which stops water flowing through the water meter) was faulty. The DR inspected the valve on several occasions but found that it was sound. The customer vacated his property for six months, and given the length of his absence, turned off the isolation valve before he left. Later the customer received a $900 water bill much of which concerned the period he was away. He contacted his DR to dispute the bill, and once again the isolation valve was inspected. This time it was found to be faulty as the meter was recording water passing through it. The valve was replaced and the customer asked that his bill be waived. The DR offered to reduce the bill by $200, however the customer was not satisfied with this and contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation it was determined that the isolation valve was faulty and water was being used by the customer in his absence because of a leak on his property. Had the isolation valve been working properly the water would not have been used. Consequently, the customer accepted the DR’s offer of an ex-gratia payment of $700, in addition to the $200 discount on the customer’s bill, reducing the customer’s account to zero.