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Resident shocked by massive fee

Tuesday, 25th March, 2014

By Nick Gibbs

A Broken Hill resident is encouraging locals shocked by large electricity bills to investigate further after she received an amended statement that differed close to $3000 from the original.

Jeannine Morrison said her jaw hit the ground when she received a bill claiming she owed her provider $2620.82 earlier this year, especially as she had organised a direct contribution of $103 per fortnight. 

“I thought there was no way we were using that much electricity, nothing had changed in the household,” she said.

Assuming the meter must have been misread, Mrs Morrison said her husband rang their electricity company requesting a second reading before a letter arrived a week later.

“We got a letter from Origin saying they were raising our payments from around $103 to $178,” she said, explaining that the company wanted to increase their fortnightly contributions so they were in line with their apparent consumption. 

After ringing Origin again and advising no action to be taken until the bill had been investigated, the couple phoned the NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman who said an Origin representative would contact them shortly.  

At this stage, Mrs Morrison said the inquiry was dealt with efficiently which she believes was thanks to involvement by the Ombudsman and dealing with a single Origin representative.

According to a statement from Origin Energy, the company was in the process of amending the billing error when they received the Ombudsman’s complaint.

“When contacted on 5 March, we arranged to have Ms Morrison’s network company check the values provided for her electricity account,” a spokesman said.

“The network company identified a meter data error and provided updated meter reads, from which Origin issued a new bill on March 11.

“Origin was in the process of resolving this matter when we received the Ombudsman complaint on 6 March.

“In any event we’re pleased to have reached an outcome for Mrs Morrison.”

The couple received their new bill on Friday, March 18, for $842 which left them $337 in credit thanks to the regular payments.

“I think there must have been a breakdown in communication between Essential Energy and Origin,  Mrs Morrison said.

It is Essential Energy’s responsibility to provide retailers with metre readings for billing.

Her advice to other residents who notice inconsistencies between quarterly bills was to ensure they take the matter further.

“Start screaming and shouting,” she said.

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