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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High bills case studies

Further information:

High bill investigation

A customer contacted us as their billing had increased (bills had been under $400 however, lately; this had increased to over $1,000). Due to access issues at the premises, self-reads had been provided by the customer who also advised that they were unaware of when the last actual read was obtained to reconcile the account.

EWOQ issued a Notice of Investigation to the retailer to request all account information. The investigation established that the last actual reads were obtained almost two years earlier. However, the most recent invoice was based on a customer self-read which resulted in a large catch-up bill. The retailer offered a 40 percent reduction on the balance of the account in addition to an extended time to pay. Due to the ongoing access issues, the retailer also offered to exchange the meter to a remotely read meter at no cost to the customer, which will allow the account to be billed on actual data. The customer was satisfied with the outcome and arranged an appointment to have the new meter installed.

Customers high bill

The customer had been away from home for approximately one month and when she received her next bill showing her usage had increased.  The customer complained to her electricity provider but never heard back from them and started to receive disconnection warnings.  The customer sought an investigation into her complaint.

EWOQ investigated the customer’s billing and metering history which showed that the customer had requested that one of her meter tariffs be changed from Tariff 33 to Tariff 31 in July 2018 although this had never been completed by the retailer.

The reatiler raised a service order to have the tariff changed at no cost to the customer; the fee to have this undertaken is normally $50. They agreed to provide a billing adjustment on the customer’s account equivalent to the customer receiving Tariff 31 from July 2018 onwards equating to a credit of $260.54. They also agreed to honour the customer’s missed pay on time discount of $100.58 and provided a good will gesture of $200 in recognition of the poor service the customer had received.

No error was ever found in the original high billing dispute. The customer was extremely grateful with EWOQ’s actions in this matter and although no error could be found in the billing for the original complaint, a number of other issues were discovered that had caused the customer’s bill to be higher than it should.

Quotes for electrical works

A customer requested that their electricity supply be upgraded (from single to three-phase power supply to improve capability). When the retailer contacted the customer to discuss the upgrade, they were advised the distributor's costs would be between $100 and $1000. However, when the customer received the bill, the distributor's charges were $2700. The customer did not feel this was reasonable considering they were quoted less than $1000. 

EWOQ issued a systemic notice to the retailer to gain further insight into their process when quoting electrical works. They advised that the work requested is discussed with the customer including a range for the costs of works, but final costs are determined by the distributor. As the distributor does not scope the site prior to sending the works request, the retailer quotes a range based on the information provided, not foreseeing any potential additional costs. After the site has been scoped, the distributor contacts the customer's electrician to advise the full extent of the work required and the costs.

The retailer confirmed their call scripting advises the customer that final costs will be determined by the distributor. They also confirmed that on this occasion the distributor advised the customer's electrician that there would be additional costs as traffic management was needed. However, as the retailer had seen a number of similar complaints from EWOQ this year, they reviewed their new connections call scripting to educated customers to consult with their electrician to verify final works and costs. 

Frustrated by procedure

A customer contacted EWOQ as she had been in dispute with her retailer about the size of her bill. On contacting the retailer the customer was advised the bill was based on an actual meter reading and to monitor her usage. After she transferred to a new retailer her energy consumption was significantly lower than with her previous retailer. The customer then received a phone call from a debt collection agency about her outstanding bill. She contacted EWOQ to determine if the bills received from her previous retailer were accurate and based on actual meter readings. If not the customer requested that her previous retailer issue her with a credit and discontinue the debt collection.

We contacted the retailer and requested a high bill investigation be undertaken together with confirmation that the customer had been billed on actual meter readings and not estimated ones. We also requested information on the customer's usage history. Through our intervention the retailer confirmed that the bills were based on actual meter readings and as a gesture of goodwill, the retailer waived the customer's outstanding debt. In addition, the retailer withdrew the debt from the debt collection agency.