Glitch adds pain for Rio customers
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@riotinto.com, 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.