Complications for customers who have manually read meters

In its November 2022 Review of the Regulatory Framework for Metering Services – Draft Report, the AEMC noted that the current average level of smart meter penetration is currently around 30%3.

This means that approximately 70% of customers have some form of manually read meter. It is possible for the transfer date to occur up to 65 business days (roughly one billing period) in the past4 and, until the roll out of smart meters ramps up, this is going to be an ongoing issue for many customers.

Case study A customer advised that she arranged to transfer her electricity account on 13 January 2022. She received an electricity bill from her previous retailer for the period 13 January 2022 to 18 March 2022 for $430, which she paid. She then received an electricity bill from her new retailer, for the same billing period for $650.

She contacted her old retailer to request a refund and provided it with her bank details. She waited approximately two weeks, however, did not receive a refund. She contacted the retailer again, and it advised her that she had to send a copy of her bank statement, and then had to wait a further 10-15 days to receive a refund. It also advised her that there was a backlog of refunds and that she would have to wait to receive the refund.

 She contacted EWON as she had not received a refund for the double billing for over seven weeks, was on a pension and had other bills to pay. EWON contacted the retailer and as a result, it processed the refund and applied a $100 customer service gesture to the account. The customer received the refund and additional $100 which resolved the complaint.

Case study A customer transferred electricity retailers in June 2022. The new retailer did not arrange for a special meter reading, and he then received his first bill starting from April 2022 for over $700. He contacted his retailer to dispute the start date of his account, however it advised him that the details of transfer were in his electricity agreement, and it was transferred back to the last actual meter reading, in April 2022.

He considered that he has been charged higher fees and rates from the earlier transfer date compared to his previous retailer and that the terms and conditions did not adequately explain the earlier transfer date. He was seeking for the retailer to refund the money that he had paid for the period April 2022 to June 2022 as he did not agree to a contract for that period.

 EWON referred the matter to the retailer for resolution at a higher level, with the knowledge that the customer could return to us if he was unable to resolve his complaint.