Is this legal?

scarlett2001February 10, 2006

The city I live in has adopted a policy of reading the gas and water meters every other month and ESTIMATING the reading alternate months. So on the months when they guess-timate the reading, I always get charged $10, $20 or more over my read bills. Now get this- every month on the estimated readings, I call them up and after a long hassle, they re-bill me, back to the correct amount. This has gone on for a year now!

I can't report them to the Public Utilites Commission because the city is in charge of the water and gas. Weird!

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But the month when they take the actual reading they credit you back from the previous month. Whats the diffrerence?. My gas company estimates my bill if they cant get into my house if I am not home. This can go on for several months but it all works out the same when they take an actual reading. I either did not pay enough or to much on the previous months.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 8:28PM
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Yes, it's legal everywhere I've lived. We opt for flat payment schedules and it's adjusted yearly. I think reading even every other month would have been frequent, since most meters are not accessable at all.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 1:25AM
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My meter in on a pole in the back yard - but I live in the country, so it costs quite a bit of gas and employee time to read the meters frequently.

I'm not sure how often they read - maybe once in three months.

I can read the meter and phone in the report, which they will use in calculating my bill for that month.

Last month I forgot to read it until over a week after the regular time, and they estimated the bill.

Low, I guess - for according to this month's reading, which I did a couple of days ago, the usage was much higher, this month.

As someone said, the difference between the estimated reading and the actual one in a month or so will be made up at the time of the actual reading. If they estimated too large number of kwh in the estimate, there'll be fewer than actual use between then and the read amount of usage.

In the meantime - how much interest would you earn on the $10. or even $20. for the intervening month?

How much is the wear and tear on your emotions worth?

I say - "Forget it".

I had an errand near the dealer which provides oil for my furnace on the day after a recent delivery and drove across the street and paid the bill.

Figured that all of the interest that I'd have made on the $175. approx. in about 6 weeks (till they'd start charging me 24% annual rate on overdue account) wouldn't buy my gas to drive half a block. Apart from my time - but being retired I'm not too short of that, though I do have a number of activities.

Of course, I could pay the utility bill at my bank, and as I'm a senior they don't charge me the $1.00 or $1.50 regular fee for such.

But I figure that the fuel dealer has to pay a fee, and even if they're Canada's largest petroleum company (mainly foreign-owned, by the way) and not about to go broke any day soon, I figure that sticking them with an unnecessary fee is a bit unnecessary/inefficient.

Were I not a senior and had to pay the bank to pay the bill there - I'd almost certainly evaluate differently.

By the way - I own shares in a bank - but not that one.

Hey - maybe I should bank at the bank whose shares I own. Provide a little extra business for the entity when I obtain a (small - mighty small) share of the profit.

Hope you have a really great week, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 2:44PM
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Sometimes ours is estimated all winter. Works out come spring. I've never been hit with some huge bill.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:04PM
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I always laughed when the said our water meter was read. The lid covering the meter box was overgrown with weeds, it hadn't been opened in years, did the meter reader have x-ray vision? heehee.

DH practically fell over in shock when the meter readers actually came and READ the meter inside our shop when we had a business. Probably because they charge a different rate for commercial than residential. We figured no one ever really read and reported the actual numbers!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 3:07PM
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We used to read the meters and mail in the readings. A few people who watered their lawns a lot would play with the figures and read it low in the summer months and then report high in the winter months to avoid the higher rates for higher consumption. I never used enough to make it worthwhile and wasn't sure I wanted to go to that extent. But my official meter is in the crawl space and it's not convenient to get to it and when they took away the remote reader on the outside of the house I had to read it in the crawl space. I decided it was worth tracking use and estimating every other cycle or so. Finally they got the transmitter meter in so I don't read them at all anymore.

I'm surprised that more places aren't using the remote read meters. They're not that expensive and sure save on labor costs. They also should eliminate hassles with estimated bills and upset people.

Course I guess it gives some of the phone answerers something to do!

If the bills are always way off on the estimates, I think I'd have a chat with a supervisor. And I'd look at my useage. If I varied a lot, there's not much to do, but if it's as consistent as my bills are, they should be able to estimate a little closer.

But I agree it's not worth worrying about too much. I just paid a bunch of bills today. One could have waited 10 days but I figured to get it done and not worry about it or risk the late fee, I just pay them all (except one credit card) between the 13th and the 15th of the month. I do like paying the electric bill by phone and the credit cards over the internet. I just noticed now I can designate a posting date so, for instance my bill was due the 19th so I could authorize the payment today and post it for any day up to the 19th. Not that it was a lot, but when I can designate it as such, why not?

Plus I save about $18 annually in postage and check fees by paying the bills I can by phone & internet. So even if I lose a few pennies in interest by paying early to avoid the possibility of a late fee, it's more than made up for by the savings and peace of mind, and gives me some more time to do other things.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 10:51PM
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There is some sort of ordinance or regulation here where they can only estimate usage a couple of months at a time. They pulled that stunt on us one time and the cost difference to us was around $15. I had DH make them correct it. I don't save money in other areas to give it away.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 1:23PM
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So - you're all het up about being charged maybe $10. - 15. too much this month - that you'll make up next month?

If figure that's more wear and tear on the emotional stability than I want to bother with.

Like Dad used to say, "Every man (O.K. - "person") to his own poison!".

"Don't take any wooden nickels", was one that Dad used occasionally, as well.

Hope you all have a fine week.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 4:12PM
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Around here people's gas bill increased 200-400% when they decided to estimate the reading for a couple of months in a row. Some of that increase was due to the higher cost of gas, but many people reported that their estimated USAGE was up over 200% of what it was the previous years, which doesn't make much sense, especially since it's been warmer this year than in the past. There was quite an uproar, but govt being govt took their money and ran anyway. Bunch of crooks, every last one of them.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 12:31PM
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Now that I think about it, our estmated bill in the earlier post was electric and not water. No, they are not getting the extra money from me.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 1:40PM
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Hi again meghane,

Yes, there does seem to be quite a bit more hot air than usual flying around, this year.

And imagine - it isn't even election year!

Well - in your country - it was in ours: during an unusually warm period, it was, as well.

Hmm-mm-mm. I wonder.

ole joyful

P.S. I'd heard there were a lot of oil guys (and gal) running your country - but I didn't know they were selling the stuff to you, as well!

"Wonders will never cease", as Dad used to say.

o j

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 2:08PM
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