HORSHAM man Leigh O’Connell is suffering from a Christmas hangover of a different kind after receiving a $1100-electricity bill dated December 25.
It was the latest blow in a saga with Origin Energy that has dragged out for more than 10 months.
Mr O’Connell said he did not receive an electricity bill between February last year and last week.
He said the bill arrived with an apology letter almost fi ve months after he lodged a complaint with Victoria’s Energy and Water Ombudsman on July 31.
“The bill for more than $1100 was dated December 25 – Merry Christmas, Leigh,” he said.
“I accept that I have to pay money and I don’t have a problem with that because I have budgeted for it.
“I hate owing money so all I wanted to do was pay my bill and I couldn’t even do that.
“I probably contacted Origin eight or 10 times and each time I received the same story that I would be billed within five working days.
“Back in November it took me 47 minutes to have my call answered, I was transferred to another department and then the line cut out.”
Mr O’Connell said he was contesting the bill because energy companies could not backdate bills more than nine months.
“My last bill was issued on February 4 and because that is more than nine months before I received this bill they can’t bill me that far back,” he said.
“They have to give me the period between February 4 and March 25 for free.
“The upshot is that I will get almost two months of free electricity but I should not.”
Mr O’Connell said he was not surprised that other Wimmera residents were fighting their energy providers after reading about Horsham mother Vicki Arnott’s battle with EnergyAustralia in Friday’s Mail-Times.
“Vicki Arnott – you are not alone,” he said.
“The man I spoke to at the ombudsman’s office said I was not alone and that he fixed these issues eight hours a day.
“Unfortunately I have a contract with Origin until March 28 but I will be bailing out on March 29.
“I am concerned that this happens with all electricity companies but that is a concern I am prepared to take a risk on.”
An Origin Energy spokeswoman said the energy provider was investigating Mr O’Connell’s complaint.
“We will be working with the customer to resolve the issue,” she said.
TIPS FROM THE OMBUDSMAN
VICTORIA’S Energy and Water Ombudsman Cythnia Gebert has encouraged Wimmera residents
to seek help if their electricity company is having billing problems.
“If a customer has been issued with an unexpected high bill because of a billing delay, they
should immediately contact their company to discuss payment plan options,” she said.
“It is important that customers contact their energy retailer or water corporation as soon as
possible to discuss their concerns.
“If these discussions are not successful, then the next step would be to contact Energy and Water
Ombudsman Victoria for assistance.”
The ombudsman recommends:
● If an electricity bill is not issued, call the energy provider as soon as possible to find out why.
● Ask to speak with a supervisor if a company’s call centre representative cannot fix a problem.
● Call Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria on 1800 500 509 if unsatisfied with an energy
company’s response to a complaint.