Gillian Joyce with the $5482 bill. Picture: Mike Keating Herald Sun
SHOCKED electricity customers are being overcharged as much as 1400 per cent due to billing blunders.
Chirnside Park woman Gillian Joyce demanded an investigation after receiving an AGL account for $5482.03 – at least 14 times higher than her typical quarterly bill.
The bungle, blamed on a mistaken meter reading, happened after a smart meter was installed at her new solar-powered home.
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Ms Joyce said that as a single household, it was impossible for her to use so much energy.
“When I opened it I very nearly had a stroke,” Ms Joyce said.
“I didn’t sleep that night and really felt quite ill. A bill of this size would kill me as I have just gone into a mortgage.”
Energy and Water Ombudsman figures released to the Herald Sun show the watchdog has been bombarded with more than 76,000 electricity billing complaints and inquiries in the past five years. These include 11,000 alleged billing errors.
Ms Joyce, a bank worker with an eye for numbers, queried the charge last Wednesday.
She got an apology and confirmation of an error yesterday after the Herald Sun intervened.
An AGL spokeswoman said the bill would be cancelled and the entire amount waived as a goodwill gesture. A network company’s incorrect reading during a meter changeover appeared to be the cause.
Ms Joyce said power companies needed to better monitor their billing processes.
“That charge was clearly ludicrous,” she said. “I don’t live in a McMansion … I don’t even have electric hot water.”
The AGL spokeswoman said customer service issues were taken seriously and “we have been focused on making improvements”.
Complaints against AGL lodged with the industry ombudsman were down last financial year while gripes against other retailers rose, she said.