Bill estimate frustration

Bothasig homeowner, Trevor Cowley, wasn’t happy with the reply he received from Eskom who supplies his electricity and he believes that when he gets a bill reflecting the true figures, instead of an estimate, he won’t be able to pay it.

“Eskom supplies the electricity in our area and bills us directly. The meters for all the houses in the street are in a central box (mini substation).

“For the last 11 months I have been receiving estimated bills (the actual reading was last done in March 2019). I have emailed Eskom a number of times.

“And on November 15 2019 they told me via email, that, ‘Our meter reader was in the area to take the readings, however, he was unable to open the mini-sub as he did not have the correct key.

“He will go around again during the week of November 18-22 2019 to take a reading. Once he obtains the reading we will rebill the account accordingly.’ Needless to say, next account was estimated,” Mr Cowley said.

“I sent another request on January 7 2020 and I received an automated reply as the last bill was an estimated reading.

“On February 3, Eskom said, ‘We will send out a meter reader around February 17 to take an actual reading’.”

Which didn’t happen.

Eskom said that their employees still do meter readings but on a quarterly basis.

“The service is outsourced to contractors which is managed by the Eskom contract manager and customer services. We have specific keys for various type of kiosks: green padlock, orange padlock and electronic keys.

“However, he didn’t go back during the week of November 18 to 22 as it may have been outside the reading cycle. Which means that the bill would any way be based on an estimated reading for the particular month: November 2019 or February 2020,” Eskom explained.

“Estimations are done by the system, based on historical usage. If no actual reading is obtained, then the system will automatically estimate the reading in order to render a bill for the particular month. If the usage has been underestimated we will make a payment arrangement with the customer.

“There were contractual issues between Eskom and the contractors who did not perform duties for at least three consecutive months. Because of the quarterly read pattern, if one month’s actual reading is missed and not read, it means that the customer will already be estimated for six consecutive months.

“If a second quarter’s actual read is missed, it will bring about nine consecutive months of estimations,” said Eskom who agreed to contact Mr Cowley.

I don’t know if they did but he wasn’t happy with the response from the state owned enterprise.

“My worry is that when these clowns eventually get the meter read, and they have underestimated the usage, I will be stuck with a huge bill. What does one have to do to get them to simply do their job?”

When I suggested to Mr Cowley that he tries to get a better explanation from Eskom he didn’t reply.