Zero tolerance urged for utilities over charging

Unit owners and strata title managers may be out of pocket for hefty over charging and some cases of double dipping by gas, water and electricity providers.  The Queensland office of the Energy and Water Ombudsman says it’s now receiving on average over 1,000 complaints per month from consumers with billing concerns.

Late last year in Brisbane, an entire apartment block of 42 units was double charged after their energy supply was allegedly switched to a new provider without consent.

Strata Community Australia (Qld) says unit owners and body corporate managers need to be vigilant and ensure they know exactly what they are paying for when the utility bill arrives. SCA (Qld) president Simon Barnard (pictured) said that a recent case is still not fully resolved.

“The apartment block Breeze on the Park at Indooroopilly was unaware that for the last four years, they were allegedly being charged twice for the same gas consumption,” Mr Barnard said.

It came to light after body corporate chairman for the building, Geoff Trotter, discovered the discrepancy after a change in building management. “AGL had been billing for cooking gas, while Origin had also been billing residents individually.

“Strata title owners and managers need to be vigilant and know exactly what they are paying for before the bill is paid. We want to see a zero tolerance policy adopted and immediate resolution of those issues. These bills are tens of thousands of dollars which isn’t peanuts to strata title owners,” Mr Barnard said. “The only way to stop this sort of activity is to name and shame the companies at fault.

“The Energy and Water Ombudsman needs to know who to monitor in terms of double charging and over charging. Although the energy company is at fault, it is up to the account holder to understand what they are paying for,” Mr Barnard said.

“It is beneficial for unit owners to pay for gas in bulk. It works out cheaper for the consumer and is in their best interest. However it is vital that accounts are correctly charged in order to ensure that mistakes like this don’t continue to occur.”

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