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Common complaints

Complaints about delayed bills, refunds and bills for previous time periods.

Delayed bills happen when your electricity, gas or water company doesn’t send you a bill for a while. Delayed bills can be caused by a number of factors including problems with your company’s billing system.

Catch-up bills happen when your electricity, gas or water company sends you a bill for an amount you owe from a previous time period. These are sometimes known as “backbills”. Catch-up bills can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Your previous bill had an error.
  • Your previous bill was delayed and your company has not been able to issue you with a bill for the usage.
  • Your previous bill was based on estimated usage and the estimate was less than what you actually used. Estimated bills are issued when an actual meter read couldn’t be done with your meter.
  • Your previous bill was based on an incorrect meter reading.

Refunds happen when your electricity, gas or water company has overcharged you. Refunds can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • You were overcharged on a previous bill.
  • Reconciliation of a bill-smoothing payment plan leads to you being owed a refund.
  • A security deposit you paid is due to be returned.

Understanding your electricity, gas and water bills can be difficult. There’s a lot of information and a variety of charges listed on your bill. Here are some of the basics that should be on every bill:

  • your address, meter number and account number
  • a breakdown of usage and service charges
  • the total amount you owe
  • discounts, rebates, credits or concessions applied to your bill
  • how you can pay
  • how to get help with payments.

Electricity, gas and water bills have two main types of charges:

  • usage charges for the electricity, gas or water you’ve used at your property
  • service charges being fixed charges that contribute to maintaining the network of wires, poles and pipes, and sewage disposal.

Water bills can also have special charges such as waterways and parks charges.

While most bills sent to you by your company will be for the correct usage and at the right time, sometimes you may receive a delayed bill or a bill based on estimated or incorrect usage, and a catch-up bill will be sent to you later.

If you haven’t been billed for all the electricity, gas or water you’ve used, your company can send you a catch-up bill. Here are the rules for catch-up bills.


Water companies can send you a catch-up bill for up to 12 months. You must have an equal amount of time to pay the catch-up bill. For example, if the catch-up bill is for six months, your water company must give you six months to pay it.

Electricity and gas

Electricity and gas companies can send you a catch-up bill for up to four months, unless you’re at fault. For example, if you’ve denied a request to access your meter, you would be at fault.

You must be offered an equal time to pay and sometimes more, up to a maximum of 12 months.

Note: the previous period was nine months and changed to four months on 1 January 2021.

Here are some simple fact sheets about delayed and catch-up bills. You can view these fact sheets on the web, download them as a PDF or print them. You can also use your browser to translate the fact sheets into another language.

Estimated bills Explains when and why bills are issued based on estimated meter readings.

View Factsheet Estimated bills

Backbilling, refunds and lost payments Information about energy and water refunds and the problems that can be experienced with payments.

View Factsheet Backbilling, refunds and lost payments

If you’ve got a complaint about a delayed bill, a catch-up bill or a refund, contact your company first. If you’re not happy with their response, contact us.

We can help with most complaints about energy or water issues in Victoria, big or small. Our service is free to Victorian customers.

"The problem was resolved very quickly"

Usman* Victorian customer * Name has been changed

Need general information?

If you don’t have a complaint but just want some general information, we call this an enquiry. We may even be able to refer you to another agency.

You can make an enquiry at any time. Call us on 1800 500 509, send us an email or start a live chat.

I thought my energy company was going to fix the problem quickly

Dina’s* property had a cross-metering issue. She needed EWOV’s help getting the $4,000 refund processed.

*names have been changed

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I was sure my energy company wasn’t giving me my proper discounts

Jim* needed our help to understand how his pay on time discount was applied to his accounts.

*names have been changed

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With EWOV’s help I understood why my bill was higher than normal

Thanh* got an electricity bill more than double his normal bill. He didn’t know why.

*names have been changed

Read Thanh's story