Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Don't Mess With The Little Guy You Big, Ugly Electricity Utility

Had a couple of fights picked with the electricity utility of late. One with a property that was recently sold and the second was with at the new place with a new solar installation.

First off, the old place. We were on self-read as the meter box was inside the locked property due to an extension which encapsulated the meter. No probs, been like that for years. When we vacated the property the electricity usage dropped noticeably. Obviously. The property wasn't on the market for long and during the period set aside for settlement I had to provide a reading. Duly noted the value and instead of using the phone service to register it I decided to complete an online form. The form notified me of an issue, namely the usage was lower than anticipated. So I commented that the property had been vacated. Soon after I received my bill with the usage as I had recorded.

Come the day before settlement. I advised, by phone, that the property was being sold the next day (13/2) at lunchtime and I wished to have a final reading of the meter done so that I could close the account. No probs and the utility and I read the meter in the late afternoon and took photos of the meter with date, time and usage.

And a bloody good thing too as it was only 2 kWh of usage since the previous reading. The bill came in for 140 kWh of usage. Excuse me! On 27/3 I spoke with the utility and explained the situation. I was informed that the usage must have been estimated. Well, that was a no-brainer as it was behind a locked door. Thank you, Captain Obvious. I explained that I had photos to show the reading and offered to send them. No need, they'd get the electricity network supplier to check except for a rule that stated a bill wouldn't be reviewed unless there was an error greater than 200 kWh. Fine, but I didn't care about their rules as I had all the proof necessary and wanted to speak to someone higher. She spoke to her supervisor and advised that they'd contact the network supplier to see if they'd recheck and she'd put the bill on hold for three weeks.

Fast forward to 13/4 and I receive a revised bill. Wow. Only they still wanted to charge me for 122 kWh of consumption. Bastards. Rang them as soon as I arrived home. The lady I spoke to this time was unable to assist and advised that a supervisor would call me within two days. And she had the nerve to ask if she'd answered my questions to my satisfaction.

Worse was to come. I also received the bill for the new house. It was an astronomical bill for 1161 kWh of consumption with a credit of $1.86 for exported electricity from my solar array. The solar array was 4 kW in size and had been installed and switched on nine days into the 58 days billing period.

This time the lady was most unhelpful and completely lacked understanding. I said that my meter read 1161 kWh on the day of the reading, as I had actually recorded the reading that day, but it didn't take into consideration that that was a cumulative value on the meter for some 18 months or so since installation date. I'd paid my bill only two months before and for this bill they wanted the entire reading for the life of the meter. The stupid person couldn't understand this. I said that I expected my consumption to have been about 470 kWh during that time. Then I mentioned that the 26 kWh that I had exported should be more like 700 or 800 kWh as my solar array had output 997 kWh during that time. For some reason my bill shows 787 kWh as a starting value when the installation took place after the billing period commenced. It made no sense at all.

By my reckoning I'd been overcharged by $163.45 and I'd been shortchanged about $50 in rebate for exporting (I produce more than I consume during the day). It was very frustrating dealing with a customer service operator who doesn't understand the bill nor the mechanics of the product being sold and who continued with that stance.

OK, today I received a call from a supervisor. She got me to check the meter at the new house and it showed I have exported 950 kWh since installation and she could see from the records that installation had taken place on a date after the last billing period commenced. I checked the usage reading too and reported it. Most logical explanation is that the meter hadn't been read correctly and human error was to blame. If I didn't mind she'd request a reread of the meter and waive the $19.65 fee associated with that as it wasn't my error. No probs. Better yet, she believed my recollection of events, probably as I constantly offered to send the photos of the meter, regarding the old house and offered to waive the whole bill which saved me $47.25 when I'd only been looking for a credit of $30 which is what I had been overcharged.

There it is. Even if you are a big, ugly electricity utility you shouldn't mess with a frugal bastard. Especially one who has recorded his electricity consumption and output and had photographic evidence to prove it. Well, I was pretty indignant that an expensive solar array would still lead to an increase of $160 in the bill instead of a sizeable reduction. Oh, and make sure you have a customer service representative that knows the product.

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posted by Hammy at 7:46 pm 3 comments

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review - 1914 The Year The World Ended by Paul Ham

Haven't done a book review in quite some time. Truth is, I haven't read a book, or at least finished one, since just before Christmas. I bought Paul Ham's "1914 The Year The World Ended" as a Christmas present. Not that it was an uninteresting book by any means but I just got caught up doing other things. Perhaps the coincidental thing is that I finished reading the book on the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, June 28th 1914. Good timing I reckon.

Paul Ham actually delves into the history behind WWI which has its origins closer to 1871 when the German state was born. From then the powers that ruled were building for war. Well, Germany appeared to be looking for empire-building/expansion but continental Europe didn't have much spare space.

I learned that the assassination didn't spark the war but was a point that allowed the Austro-Hungarian empire to try to humiliate the Kingdom of Serbia and engage them in a regional conflict whereupon they wished to inflict a harsh lesson. Backed by Russia, Serbia didn't back down and amassed troops near the border. Germany had backed Austria with a blank cheque and France had an agreement with Russia to assist if she were attacked.

There is quite a bit of information, mainly centred on the British government, regarding diplomacy and France and Germany are dealt with to a lesser degree. Wonderful insight into the goings on behind the scenes including telegrams between cousins the Kaiser and the Tsar. Some amazing information that they don't teach you in school.

There's a few hundred pages regarding the buildup to the conflict, including the diplomacy to try to avoid it, and then a few hundred more on the actual fighting. Wonderful information regarding battles and the waste of human life. I had no idea of the importance of Belgium in WWI and was surprised that the Germans told them that they would respect their neutrality if the Belgians would stand aside and let them walk through to take on the French. If not, they were at war. I was able to see how important it was the Britain entered the war and why so many young men were sacrificed as Britain's safety and respect were at stake. War is so much more formal in nature than I previously thought.

1914 The Year The World Ended by Paul Ham
Fantastic read and worthy of historical study. More of the content should be in any school curriculum when dealing with WWI.

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posted by Hammy at 10:05 pm 4 comments

Sunday, May 04, 2014

All The Memes You Could Eat

Also available on my Facebook page - Just Taking The Piss, Mate.

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posted by Hammy at 4:44 pm 1 comments

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