A customer contacts EWOV after receiving a high backbill (January 2013)

Trouble paying a bill, Delayed and catch-up bills
Case Number 2012/57537
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

In 2012, Ms B received an electricity backbill of $1,557 for the billing period of September 2010 to October 2011. When Ms B contacted the company she was told that the backbill was incorrectly issued due to a computer system error.

However, Ms B’s next bill was for $1,875, which included the backbill’s balance. Ms B was on a disability support pension and could only afford to make payments of $50 per fortnight towards the amount.

In December 2012, Ms B recontacted the company because of her payment difficulties, and it offered to send her an application form for the Utility Relief Grant scheme. Ms B was not offered to be placed on the company’s hardship program and she had difficulty paying the amount it requested.

The Investigation

Ms B eventually contacted EWOV for assistance. Our Investigation found that Ms B was incorrectly billed well beyond the backbilling guidelines under the Energy Retail Code. The Code outlines that a company can still issue a backbill for energy consumed if it was at fault for not issuing bills, but it can’t backbill further than nine months—even if that means some of the customer’s usage isn’t billed.

The Outcome

The company apologised to Ms B for the inconvenience it had caused her. It waived $1,849 from her electricity account, in line with the Energy Retail Code’s guidelines for backbilling. Ms B was now $30 in credit and was assured she would receive correct bills in future.

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