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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 November, 2014

Electricity customer accidentally billed for second property for seven years

An official report outlines some of the customer complaints upheld against energy providers last year.

Image: Electricity meter via Shutterstock

AN AIRTRICITY CUSTOMER was incorrectly charged for energy use at two properties for seven years, according to a new file of customer energy complaints.

Details of the complaint are contained in a report from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER)’s Energy Customers Team, which handles complaints referred by energy customers who are unhappy with their provider’s response.

The customer had moved into a rented property in 2003 and had realised, after some time, that their energy use appeared to be far higher in their new property than it had been in previous residences.

Eventually they turned off all appliances, but noted that the meter was still running – and so a technician was called, who determined that the meter had actually been connected to the premises directly next door.

The CER’s report outlined that 2,770 customers had submitted complaints to the Energy Customers Team in 2012, an increase of over 40 per cent on the previous year’s total of 1,930.

However, almost two thirds of the complaints were returned to the original supplier, compared to less than half of the complaints from 2011.

Daytime usage billed at night rate

In other complaints upheld by the CER, Electric Ireland asked a customer to pay a large bill as a result of a metering issue – where daytime usage was billed at the night rate – for five years.

The customer’s complaint was upheld, however, because ESB Networks – which manages the electricity supply network – had not allocated the amount to the bill, meaning Electric Ireland could not seek payment. Electric Ireland were directed to compensate the customer for the error.

In a similar but separate case, ESB Networks was told to make an ex gratia payment to a customer after they received a high bill as a result of a discrepancy between day and night rates.

Elsewhere, Bord Gais Energy incorrectly opened an electricity account in the name of a former occupant of a property, even though they no longer owned or lived in the house – and sent the bills to the previously householder’s new address.

In that case it was discovered that the bills had incorrectly been issued to the property in the former resident’s name, and when they were returned to BGE, the provider ran a data match and matched the old householder’s name with their new address.

A complaint was also upheld against Bord Gais Networks after they were found to have unfairly treated a customer who had not been billed for two years, and then received a bill for several thousand euro.

In that case the customer had paid for a locked meter to be moved to a gable wall, but BGN had not updated its computer systems to reflect the change – meaning no bill was sent for over a year until a meter reading was taken. There was a further issue regarding the meter being incorrectly read as imperial instead of metric.

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