Gas meter error almost costs customer $24,000
A MAN opened his mail and discovered he had been slugged with $24,000 worth of gas bills.
There was nothing he had done differently, so called his gas provider to sort out what was clearly a mistake.
But he was shocked when he was told that was the amount of gas used and he would be required to pay the company the tens of thousands of dollars.
He contacted the Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria in April last year, complaining about his gas retailer and distributor.
According to a report released by EWOV, he received six bills, totalling $24,133, for gas usage at his Victorian property from February 2015 to December 2015.
The man believed the bills were too high and said when he rang his gas retailer, he was told the meter at his property had been tested and the bills were correct.
His gas distributor said it investigated the meter and there was no leak.
According to the report the man, named only as Mr L, did his own investigations into why his bill was so high and hired three plumbers who all confirmed his property could not use the amount of gas he was charged for.
He had a faulty gas meter that recorded usage at 11 times more than what was actually used.
EWOV put him in touch with his gas retailer and the ombudsman launched an investigation into both the retailer and the gas distributor.
The ombudsman's technical expert also deemed the bill was too high for the usage, judging by the appliances at the property.
The gas meter at Mr L's house was removed for testing and his usage fell significantly and it was found his original meter had a broken spigot lodged in the index roller.
The gas distributor then adjusted the usage and the gas retailer issued Mr L a new bill.
The amount on his bill dropped from $24,133 to $2832.73. Mr L was also given $400 credit.
EWOV investigates unusually expensive bills by determining whether a gas company has contributed to the cause of the high cost.
"It's not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of a higher than expected bill, rather it's often only possible to identify what is not the cause," EWOV said.
"The aim of EWOV's investigation is to confirm you have been billed accurately with the meter correctly recording usage.
"This means that a high bill investigation is a process of eliminating the possible causes of a high bill."
Some appliances can use more electricity and gas than others and EWOV said using an oil column heater or electric wall heater would increase the cost of your bill.
Running a large or faulty fridge, leaving the TV, DVD or CD player on standby, a faulty hot water service and a hot water booster will increase electricity costs.
Holes in the ducts of central heating systems, faulty thermostats on hot water services, having no blinds or curtains and having a gas leak can all impact the cost of gas.
Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert told the Herald Sun it was concerning that errors, like what affected Mr L, continued to happen.
"If it doesn't seem right and you are not happy with the information your company provides, it is important to know there is an independent service available to seek a fair and reasonable outcome," she said.
Between January and March this year, EWOV received more than 7500 complaints in relation to electricity, gas and water, with bills and credit being the main issues.