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ESB underestimating bills

02.07.2010 12:52 #1
Awh I'm gonna scream, I lived in a student apartment from January - May and when living there all my ESB bills came to about €100 - €150, which was fine. Now when they were closing my account I find out that all this time they were estimating my bills and in my closing bill (which I moved out 10 days after the previous bill) I get hit with a bill for €263!!!!!! I am a jobless student and I think its madness that they can underestimate someone by so much and then just hit them with it. After all it was just 5 months of living there and I recieved two bills so I think its an awful lot to underestimate someone by and totally unfair. Especially when I rang the ESB upon recieving the closing bill and I got told that I could take my last bill away from the total due, I then lodged that amount and since this wasnt the case im now in dept in my bank account :( I think this is so unfair and the ESB shouldn't be able to do this to their costumers, a better system should be in place!!!!!!!! :( :( :(
02.07.2010 13:31 #2
Registered User
you could have easily submitted regular reading to them which would have been used instead of their estimates.

Estimates are based on prior usage so when you moved in you obviously used a lot more power than previous tenants. Can't really blame ESB for that. They commit to 2 readings a year with 4 estimates, seems reasonable to me.
1 thank
02.07.2010 13:34 #3
Hi irishbluebabe,

I can understand your frustration. If you would PM your account details, I can look into the matter further for you.

Generally speaking, estimates are based on past consumption patterns, and if there is a regular turnover of tenants/occupants in a given property, these patterns would then be subject to greater variability. This can sometimes lead to estimations that are quite wide of the mark.

Readings are taken 4 times a year, so in a 12-month period, customers can expect 2 estimations. However, this number may increase if there are difficulties in gaining access to the meter.

In future if you receive any estimated bills (an 'E' will be marked next to the present reading) you could adjust your bill online here, email us, or phone in 1850 372 372.

For customers who are hit with large bills after a series of consecutive estimates, we understand it may be difficult to pay all at once. We can, in cases like that, make an arrangement with the customer that would accomodate them. I appreciate your circumstances may be difficult, so please do PM and I will do my best to help.

Thanks,

David.
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02.07.2010 13:41 #4
Registered User
Originally posted by irishbluebabe
Awh I'm gonna scream, I lived in a student apartment from January - May and when living there all my ESB bills came to about €100 - €150, which was fine. Now when they were closing my account I find out that all this time they were estimating my bills and in my closing bill (which I moved out 10 days after the previous bill) I get hit with a bill for €263!!!!!! I am a jobless student and I think its madness that they can underestimate someone by so much and then just hit them with it. After all it was just 5 months of living there and I recieved two bills so I think its an awful lot to underestimate someone by and totally unfair. Especially when I rang the ESB upon recieving the closing bill and I got told that I could take my last bill away from the total due, I then lodged that amount and since this wasnt the case im now in dept in my bank account :( I think this is so unfair and the ESB shouldn't be able to do this to their costumers, a better system should be in place!!!!!!!! :( :( :(


Did you not look at the bills when they came, they would have been marked as estimates, and you have the opportunity to give them the correct reading after each estimated bill...
02.07.2010 14:05 #5
Well maybe its my own fault for not knowing that these were estimates, but as a first time ESB customer this was not explained to me and I did look at the bills but when I see an E beside a lot of numbers I guess I didnt know what that meant and so didnt investgate further. I also didnt no that you could submit your own readings which I will be doing from now on. So as I said maybe it is my fault but all the same its very frustrating when I wasnt expecting such a high bill because of underestimatings... Thanks for the comments anyway :)
02.07.2010 15:35 #6
Registered User
Originally posted by irishbluebabe
Well maybe its my own fault for not knowing that these were estimates, but as a first time ESB customer this was not explained to me and I did look at the bills but when I see an E beside a lot of numbers I guess I didnt know what that meant and so didnt investgate further.


it explains it on the bill
:rolleyes:
06.07.2010 11:50 #7
really there should be NO estimates, if the esb cant read meters they should pass the job of providing power to a company that is competant to provide a full service!
06.07.2010 11:53 #8
Hi irishbluebabe,

I have replied to your PM. Thanks for providing all the necessary details.

I thought it might be worth mentioning, for future reference, our online billing option, which boasts the following features:
  • No more paper bills
  • Pay your bills online by Laser card or direct debit
  • Securely store up to two years of bills
  • Monitor your electricity usage
  • Received an estimated bill? Submit a meter reading and request an updated one at any time
  • Your bill, usage and payment history, all stored in one secure place
  • Check your next bill date
  • Manage multiple accounts
It basically puts you in control, so that unwelcome surprises are kept to a minimum.

Also, if you were to set up an account online before 23/07/10, you can get 2 months worth of Screenclick DVD movie rentals for free (subject to the usual terms and conditions).

Any questions, just give me a shout and I'll be happy to help,

Thanks,

David.
06.07.2010 12:01 #9
Originally posted by foggy_lad
really there should be NO estimates, if the esb cant read meters they should pass the job of providing power to a company that is competant to provide a full service!


Hi foggy_lad,

I can understand your point. However, reading the meters four times per year keeps costs down and is in line with international meter reading practice.

We try to make it as easy as possible for customers to submit readings on those ocassions when they are due to be estimated, or to amend readings when they have already been estimated.

Thanks,

David.
06.07.2010 22:56 #10
Registered User
Originally posted by foggy_lad
really there should be NO estimates, if the esb cant read meters they should pass the job of providing power to a company that is competant to provide a full service!


Reading meters is a nightmare.
The only way to guarantee meter reads will be if they are all online meters.
But that's a long way away yet.
06.07.2010 23:50 #11
Registered User
Originally posted by foggy_lad
really there should be NO estimates, if the esb cant read meters they should pass the job of providing power to a company that is competant to provide a full service!


As far as I know, the ESB reduced the frequency of reads from 6 times a year to 4 several years ago in the interests of reducing costs. I think it was a mistaken decision as the costs savings would not have been that significant: the bulk of the reading was - and is - done by contract meter readers and the rates being paid to them were - and are- very economical in international terms.

What has happened since is that the number of estimates has increased significantly - all customers now get at least 2 estimated bills per year. This has resulted, I understand, in a very significant amount of calls to the various supply companies (ESB Networks read the meters for everyone) from customers requesting estimated bills to be adjusted to their own actual readings or from customers querying large bills caused by previous under-estimates.

The cost saving initiative therefore that was undertaken all those years ago was penny wise but pound foolish. We would all be better off if ESB Networks were to revert to reading 6 times a year. I'm sure the domestic supply companies - ESB Customer Supply, Bord Gais Energy, Airtricty - would be in favour of it as well.

It's all very well to say that 4 reads are in line with international practice but it's not quite correct. In the USA for instance many (most?) utilities read meters every month and on the other hand in parts of continental Europe reads take place only once a year. Culturally, we are nearer to Boston than Berlin and Irish electricity customers would prefer more reads than less.

However, there will be no change given the advent of smart metering. Smart meters will obviate the need for estimates (we are told) as there will be automatic reading updates to a central hub every 15 mins. Whether or not the country can afford the billions of euro required to supply a smart meter to everyone is another matter.

Finally, foggy_lad is incorrect in stating there should be NO estimates. As long as meters are read by meter readers there will be estimates as many meters are located indoors and access is not always available when readers call. Customers of course should check their bills and if estimated take your own reading and request your supplier to send you an adjusted bill.

Regards,

Fnergg
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07.07.2010 09:48 #12
Originally posted by Fnergg
However, there will be no change given the advent of smart metering. Smart meters will obviate the need for estimates (we are told) as there will be automatic reading updates to a central hub every 15 mins. Whether or not the country can afford the billions of euro required to supply a smart meter to everyone is another matter.


You've hit the nail on the head with the bit I underlined. Smart meters will make it easy for electricity suppliers to have much more complex tariffs, possibly having a number of rates for different times of day and seasons of the year. For example, 5pm to 7pm is the daily peak demand period and business users are already incentivised to reduce consumption in this period. We could see domestic consumers charged especially high prices for this period with the carrot that everyone would get the benefit of lower night time pricing, not as at present just those who are on a night rate tariff.

If this is effective, the billions of Euro you mention could be saved on the generation side, with fewer power stations required.
07.07.2010 09:58 #13
Administrator
Originally posted by foggy_lad
really there should be NO estimates, if the esb cant read meters they should pass the job of providing power to a company that is competant to provide a full service!


In fairness, in the case of meters where ESB can't access them for readings, do you think any private company is going to do any better?

The bill does clearly explain what the "E" symbol means.
07.07.2010 10:31 #14
Finally, foggy_lad is incorrect in stating there should be NO estimates. As long as meters are read by meter readers there will be estimates as many meters are located indoors and access is not always available when readers call. Customers of course should check their bills and if estimated take your own reading and request your supplier to send you an adjusted bill
there should be a responsibility placed on ESB networks to read every meter at least 4 times a year and where a meter is not readily accessible when that meter is estimated twice a letter should be sent to the account holder requesting access at a particular time and if this is not forthcoming service should be withdrawn until such time as access is granted by the account holder!

it should also be the responsibility of the ESB networks to put a program in place to provide outside meters to the million or so houses that currently have the meter inside the door or down in the cellar etc. and it should be a legal requirement for management companies in apartment blocks etc to allow access at all times for meter reading staff.
07.07.2010 14:38 #15
Registered User
Originally posted by foggy_lad
there should be a responsibility placed on ESB networks to read every meter at least 4 times a year and where a meter is not readily accessible when that meter is estimated twice a letter should be sent to the account holder requesting access at a particular time and if this is not forthcoming service should be withdrawn until such time as access is granted by the account holder!

it should also be the responsibility of the ESB networks to put a program in place to provide outside meters to the million or so houses that currently have the meter inside the door or down in the cellar etc. and it should be a legal requirement for management companies in apartment blocks etc to allow access at all times for meter reading staff.


Some drastic remedies there foggy. (Are you a German gentleman by any chance? :-)

As far as I know, ESB Networks do write to customers requesting a reading or an access arrangement when there have been several estimates in succession.

Threatening disconnection - while it has its merits! - would be a step too far. There are many customers who are either living abroad or are in hospital or otherwise not in residence and whose bills are paid up to date. The estimates can often be very accurate in these instances as well. Disconnecting such customers for lack of a reading would not be acceptable.

And if access to the meter is a problem then so would the withdrawal of supply which is normally done at the meter. Outside disconnections could be effected in some cases but not all - at least not without incurring significant costs.

As regards providing outside meters to customers whose existing meters are inside: ESBNW will happily provide such a service but the customer has to engage a contractor to make the necessary internal wiring arrangements first and there is a cost, of course, to the customer for that. ESBNW are disbarred from interfering in any way with a customer's internal wiring which is the individual householder's responsibility.

Given the costs involved very few customers opt for the facility.

It is part of the ESB General Conditions of Supply that access to meters be available to ESB authorised staff at all reasonable times. I agree that ESBNW should be pressing apartment block management companies when this access is not forthcoming. Equally, individual customers in such blocks should be demanding access to their meters at reasonable times.

At the end of the day the customer has also a responsibility for ensuring that his/her bill is an accurate reflection of the electricity used and this can be done by the simple expedient of checking the meter reading. Never before has it been easier to submit an actual reading in order to get an estimated bill adjusted.

Regards,

Fnergg
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