Name & Shame


I have been busy with work recently and so not much time for my creative pursuits – gardening, cooking and sewing.  However, I have been making an effort to finish off some jobs that have hanging around.

Many have been things that I keep meaning to do such as reviewing our phone and internet plans with the current providers.  I wrote about this project a couple of days ago and you can read it here.  I have decided that the exit fees for our mobile phone contract are too high so we will stick with what we have for the moment and be more vigilant about reviewing the SMS messages that we receive advising that we have used 60% and then 80% of our data quota.  I did discover that we can negotiate a new plan once we are within 3 months of the end of our current contract.  I have made a note in my diary for the end of December to do this.

Despite not getting quite the outcome I had hoped for, I am certainly not naming and shaming our telephone or internet providers.  I am saving that for our electricity company!!

I have written several posts about my battles with Origin Energy since I began this blog in March 2011.  I will not bore you with links to them all here but if you put ‘electricity’ or ‘Origin Energy’ into the search function on the right-hand side of the page you will find most of them.

2012-07-26 01Yesterday, I made yet another phone call to Origin regarding the non-appearance of our latest bill/statement.  The meter was read on 28th May which is almost 2 months ago.  This has happened every quarter since we had the solar panels installed in November 2010.  Despite numerous assurances about ‘the system’, ‘a block on your bill’ and other nonsense being sorted out it never happens and I am just about about breaking point.

As usual, the people who answer the phone copped my wrath, always prefaced with “I know it is not your fault directly”.  This time I have the name of the person who took my call initially as well as the contact in the Solar Billing Department.  I have advised that I will be sending a letter to the General Manager with a copy to both of the people with whom I spoke directly yesterday.

We have been receiving electricity bills for over 30 years and they have arrived in the mail, as regular as clockwork, within 3-5 working days of the meter being read.  This has been the case year in, year out without fail until we had the solar panels installed.

Suddenly, when we are in credit rather than having a bill to pay, we do not receive any notification until I ring up and beg/plead/argue/debate the issue every 3 months.  Initially, we were advised that credit would only be paid every 12 months or if we wanted it more often it was up to us to ring Origin and request the payment. Previously, I had an automatic direct debit set up to pay our electricity bill.  It is clearly far too difficult for Origin to set up a simple direct credit to my bank account every 3 months when my electricity account is in credit!

I have to battle to even find out how much credit is owing to us while Origin get interest-free use of money which is rightfully ours.  Shame on you, Origin!!

Things have improved marginally in the past 18 months.  I discovered yesterday that I can now make an online request for payment of any credit balance into my nominated bank account.  All I need now is to receive the statements for our electricity account in a timely manner so that we can use the money which we have accrued through the purchase of solar panels and judicious use of electricity.

Origin Energy – lift your game and get this sorted out – NOW!!

I suspect that I am not the only person with billing issues since installing solar panels and I am very keen to hear if anyone else has a similar story to tell.  Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page or on my Facebook page.  Alternatively, you can email me.  The email address is at the foot of this page.

I am particularly in the experiences of other Origin customers, but please feel free to comment, regardless of which provider you have.

To my overseas readers – do you have similar problems?

3 thoughts on “Name & Shame

  1. First, you need to check with your union if you are allowed to complain about this company while you are a member of the public service yourself, as it may be against the regulations you work under. You have a valid complaint that does not relate to your work, but it is well to be completely in the right.
    Identify exactly what the problem is. Just interest on your account is not enough, but failing to send the bills in a timely manner is definitely valid. Failing to deposit credits to your account is suspicious.
    I suggest you write to your local Member of Parliament as well as the Minister whose portfolio includes electricity. If you have a twitter account or facebook, then use these to express your dissatisfaction. Write to every newspaper you can think of. If nothing changes then do a survey yourself and contact the local current affairs TV program with your evidence of shoddy practices. Prepare very carefully for everything, including the legislation under which this company operates. They may be required to operate within the Code of Practice of your Public Service because they supply electricity to and draw electricity from the public. Check the paperwork you signed when the panels were purchased and linked to the grid.
    Hopefully something will change. I think your complaint is perfectly within all public service rights and obligations but I have not studied your laws. Even if you get heaps of publicity and are then shot down in flames, all that will result is that someone will think you spoke up. Your head will not fall of, the sky will not fall down, and you will know you tried to defend not only yourself but the hundreds of people in your position.

  2. I work for an electricity company (I work building poles and wires etc, as an engineer) and even this has given me a run around. Because I work for a company, I get a ‘staff discount’ (which was, in the end, less than what I could get as a normal customer). So I decided to move my elect & gas from who the last tenant was with (AGL) to EnergyAustralia.

    Well my my my – my ‘final’ (ie only ever) bill from AGL was a ‘estimated read’ Given that I’m moving companies, I’d prefer it wasn’t ‘estimated’. Well after 5-6 phone calls, I get to the bottom of getting the meter re-read (well, it wasn’t that simple was it!). In the end, I got a plumber and an electrician to reinstall the meter (it’s really a water meter, as the only thing I have gas is hot water, but it’s centralised for our building of 115 apartments!). These happened seamlessly, they called me, told me a day/time, I left a key with the building manager and it all happened (sometimes, paying obscenely high strata fees seems ok!).

    That was two months ago – I still don’t have a ‘new’ bill (ie, non estimated bill). I’m not really sure what they want to do – if the old meter wasn’t ‘talking’ to the place where they centralise all the information for two floors of the apartment, what are they going to do? I mean, I tried to read the meter under my sink, but it was serious contortions, and even then, the condensation on the meter made it impossible. I continue to extend my ‘estimated’ bill, cause I know if I overpay, I’ll never see anything back. I just put it in my calendar who I spoke to when, and when they said my due date is now, plus any other ‘dates’ (ie, in the next 3 weeks) on the calendar too – so nothing gets ‘missed’. It’s really hit and miss who you speak to – and the consistency of the information you get. I regret even attempting to change companies!

  3. Oh my – I got the ‘adjusted’ bill today – went from $230 to $80. Almost worth all the hassle – that’s a huge saving. One wonders if the poor tenants before me were also being overcharged.

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