Glitch adds pain for Rio cus­tomers

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Util­i­ties bills of up to $40,000 is­sued to Rio Tinto cus­tomers in Tom Price, Parabur­doo and Wick­ham have been the prod­uct of a tech­ni­cal is­sue in switch­ing to a new pay­ment sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to the re­sources com­pany.

Af­fected res­i­dents have been tak­ing to com­mu­nity Facebook pages over the past few weeks to ex­press shock at re­ceiv­ing util­i­ties bills rang­ing from a lit­tle un­der $1000 to tens of thou­sands of dol­lars for four months of elec­tri­cal and wa­ter use.

As a re­sult, Rio has cre­ated a sep­a­rate email ad­dress, Util­i­tiesBillingEs­ca­la­tions@ri­ot­, solely for cus­tomers “seek­ing ur­gent at­ten­tion” for the is­sue.

Rio Tinto greater Parabur­doo op­er­a­tions gen­eral man­ager Gabe Iwanow is tak­ing to Facebook to pla­cate wor­ried cus­tomers.

Rio Tinto core ser­vices gen­eral man­ager Mom­cilo An­dric said the billing glitches had oc­curred as the com­pany moved wa­ter and elec­tric­ity ac­count pay­ments to a new on­line sys­tem de­signed to be more con­ve­nient for cus­tomers.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there have been some tech­ni­cal chal­lenges, which have caused de­lays to the cur­rent in­voic­ing cy­cle,” he said.

“We sin­cerely apol­o­gise for the in­con­ve­nience it has caused our Pil­bara cus­tomers and we are work­ing to fix the prob­lem as quickly as pos­si­ble.

“We have re-is­sued in­voices to 10 of our 4500 wa­ter cus­tomers who re­ceived in­cor­rect in­voices with in­ac­cu­rate amounts in the range of $15,000 to $40,000.”

Also con­tribut­ing to the es­ca­la­tions is the four-month us­age pe­riod for this round of in­voices — from De­cem­ber to March — in­stead of the usual three months.

Wick­ham Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Fiona White-Har­tig said it seemed Rio was ad­dress­ing the billing is­sue, but a lack of in­for­ma­tion to cus­tomers about the changeover may have in­creased lo­cal con­cern.

“Rio Tinto need to in­crease their com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the com­mu­ni­ties ... and make sure that res­i­dents and busi­nesses are aware of any changes to their billing sys­tem,” she said.

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