Customer receives large backbill

A retailer issued a backbill of $16,270 covering a three-year period, March 2017 to March 2020, that was disputed by the customer’s advocate. 

The advocate told us that after an investigation, the retailer had accepted responsibility for an error where the wiring for the solar installation and smart meter had been set up incorrectly. The retailer said it had reconciled the billing and the amount owing for the past three years was $16,270. The advocate thought the amount was unreasonable considering the retailer had accepted responsibility for the error and had not provided sufficient time to pay the backbill. 

We referred this complaint back to the retailer at a higher level for resolution, however the advocate returned to us for an investigation as she was not satisfied with the response. 

When we began its investigation, the retailer immediately applied a credit of $10,052 to the account covering the period from March 2017 to September 2019. This left a balance of $6,217. Our investigation established: 

  • the consumption data from March 2017 to September 2019 was not estimated in accordance with the Rules because the estimated consumption was far higher than the customers actual consumption before March 2017 and after September 2019 
  • the retailer was not applying a feed-in tariff for all electricity that was recorded as being exported to the network, for the period of June 2019 to March 2020 
  • the back-billing provisions were not correctly applied, and the customer was overcharged by $2,603. 

The complaint was resolved when the account was re-billed after the retailer appropriately applied credits to comply with backbilling regulations. It applied an additional $800 credit and a pay on time discount of $297 which reduced the balance to $2,398. The retailer also established a payment plan of $399 per month for six months to pay the amount owing.