How to avoid electricity meter-reading nightmares

Biznews recently reported about Gauteng resident Dennis de Necker’s 3-person household receiving a monthly electricity bill of R563,380 in May 2015.

This was a significant increase from the previous month’s R4,658.

The massive electricity bill followed the installation of a new smartmeter at his house, of which he was not informed.

The inaccurate measurements did not stop, and de Necker now owes City Power R1.2 million.

Despite paying R5,000 per month in good faith for his electricity usage, he has now been warned that his services will be disconnected unless he pays the outstanding R1.2 million.

Attempts to resolve the issue fell on deaf ears. De Necker said that two hours of queuing at the municipal offices in Randburg resulted in a hostile and uncooperative response.

Other attempts, which included a visit to the Roodepoort municipal offices and writing to City Power, also proved fruitless.

De Necker now faces the prospect of having his electricity cut off.

How to prevent electricity meter-reading nightmares

De Necker is not alone. Many South Africans have experienced incorrect and often exorbitant bills, Carte Blanche recently revealed.

Carte Blanche provided the following steps South Africans can take to address suspected overcharging:

  • Ensure the meter number (meter-reading unit) on your bill is the same as the one listed on the meter itself.
  • Contact your nearest municipal office to query a sudden increase. Remember to request the name of the person assisting you as well as a reference number.
  • Take photographs of your meter and the meter-reading at least once a month. You can use the photos to prove that the meter-reading on the invoice doesn’t correspond with the photos.

Carte Blanche warned there are also scammers who target unsuspecting residents. Here is what is suggested to prevent being conned:

  • Request the details from anyone claiming to be a municipal contractor before allowing them onto your property. This includes asking them for their municipal identity card and their employee number and name.
  • Call your municipality’s electricity division/department to verify the contractor’s details.
  • Never pay any official at the gate – not for services, not to avoid disconnection, and not to settle any outstanding amounts.
  • Report any suspected criminals using the anonymous tip-off line on 0800 00 2587, or via the official crime line on 0800 11 27 22.

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How to avoid electricity meter-reading nightmares