Avoid in­ter­est by not skip­ping bill pay­ments

The Star Early Edition - - METROWATCH - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

ANORTHCLIFF res­i­dent, Jeanne Marks, has been tear­ing her hair out over an in­cor­rect bill of about R4000 for elec­tric­ity each month.

“I am re­ceiv­ing monthly ac­counts of more than R4 000 per month in spite of the fact that I only switch on my elec­tric­ity twice, max­i­mum three times a week, at the main switch, to charge my cell­phone and do wash­ing once a week.

“In my opin­ion, I am con­tribut­ing to some­one else’s elec­tric­ity ac­count.

“I in­formed the city of my prob­lem at a rates and taxes meet­ing at Marks Park, but to date no­body has con­tacted me,” she said.

Fur­ther­more she es­ti­mates that she is owed about R42000 for es­ti­mated ac­counts since 2013.

Coun­cil spokesper­son Kga­manyane Mapholo­gela said: “This cus­tomer’s elec­tric­ity is nor­mal.

“The city’s anal­y­sis of the cus­tomer’s elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion found the charges are nor­mal and charges are cor­rect.

“The as­ser­tion made that the city charges the cus­tomer R4 000 for elec­tric­ity alone is not true.”

He said the rea­son for this could be the fact that the cus­tomer has not been faith­ful in ser­vic­ing her debt reg­u­larly.

“Our records show that the cus­tomer last paid their ac­count about a year ago in June, so the elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion is def­i­nitely not the rea­son the ac­count bal­ance ac­cu­mu­lates, it is be­cause the cus­tomer has not been ser­vic­ing their mu­nic­i­pal ac­count on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Mapholo­gela said.

He stressed that even though the cus­tomer might not be us­ing the elec­tric­ity reg­u­larly, she still has to pay for other ser­vices.

“The city charges for five ser­vices, namely elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, prop­erty rates, sewer and refuse, which the cus­tomer is still li­able to pay on an on­go­ing ba­sis.”

Mapholo­gela also cau­tions cus­tomers to be aware of the com­pound in­ter­est in the in­stance where they have not been pay­ing con­sis­tently.

“We have found that a lot of cus­tomers are ei­ther part-pay­ing the city or skip­ping some months in be­tween.

“This re­sult is the in­ter­est grow­ing as you miss pay­ments.

“You could imag­ine if some­one has not been pay­ing their ac­count in about a year, how much in­ter­est it would have grown by,” says Mapholo­gela. He cau­tioned cus­tomers to be aware of the com­pound in­ter­est if they haven’t been pay­ing con­sis­tently.

How­ever, the city’s om­buds­man, to which Marks re­ferred her query, con­tra­dicted this, say­ing the rev­enue de­part­ment had con­ducted in­ves­ti­ga­tions on the ac­count and found that her elec­tric­ity read­ings were based on es­ti­mated con­sump­tion.

The om­buds­man said these read­ings had sub­se­quently been cor­rected, and ac­tual read­ings were cap­tured on the ac­count.

All charges based on es­ti­mated con­sump­tion have now been re­versed and the ac­count is cor­rect.

Marks said: “Thank you so much for Metrowatch’s in­put. I feel like quot­ing Win­ston Churchill – ‘Never give up, never give up’.

The re­sult is the in­ter­est grow­ing as you miss pay­ments

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