If you have not received your usually scheduled energy or water bill your company may send you a backbill. A backbill will cover a longer period than your usual billing cycle and will likely be for a larger than usual amount.
In 2012-13, backbilling complaints to EWOV increased by 40%, with customers raising 5,169 backbilling issues. Considering this upward trend, let's go through some of the reasons why it occurs and what rules apply in such cases.
EWOV’s backbilling factsheet provides basic information that may help resolve your backbilling issues.
Why backbilling occurs:
- Your company may be experiencing problems with its billing system and is unable to issue a bill over a period of time.
- You may have received estimates for your last or last few bills, and when your meter was read it was found that you used more than the estimate predicted.
- There was an error on a previous bill.
- Your company may not have been able to access your meter in order to read it.
- Your last bill may have been based on an incorrect meter read.
- Your Smart Meter, solar bi-directional meter or interval meter may have experienced a problem during the reading process.
The rules surrounding backbilling:
Even if your company was at fault, it can still send you a delayed bill for the energy you have consumed. That being said, your company cannot bill you for any usage charges that are more than 9 months old. Also, you must be given equal time to pay the delayed bill. That means if your delayed bill is for 6 months, then you get 6 months to pay.
When do these time-limit billing rules not apply? If you don't provide access to your meter, and your company has requested access, you can be billed in excess of 9 months and for however long the delayed bill dates to.
Have a look at the Energy Retail Code, specifically section 6.2, for more information.
No matter who is at fault, water companies can backbill you for up to 12 months. But, like with energy, you must be afforded an equal amount of time to pay.
Check out the Customer Service Code - Urban Water Businesses for more information.