What to do if you have to dis­pute an in­voice for util­i­ties

Manawatu Guardian - - STEPPING OUT... -

Most en­ergy providers send monthly bills for en­ergy use.

A provider may send a back bill (or catch-up bill) if you have not re­ceived a bill for a long time, or where monthly bills were too low for some rea­son.

A back bill may also be caused by billing er­rors, such as an un­billed me­ter, billing on the wrong me­ter, or a mis­take in cal­cu­lat­ing the bill. It is im­por­tant to find out what caused the back bill and to make sure it is ac­cu­rate.

If you get a back bill you should con­tact your en­ergy provider and ask for an ex­pla­na­tion of why it was sent. If you are are not sat­is­fied with the ex­pla­na­tion, you can tell the provider you want to make a com­plaint. Tell the provider what you be­lieve would be a fair and rea­son­able out­come for your com­plaint, and why. Of­ten peo­ple can re­solve back bill com­plaints di­rectly with the provider. You should con­tinue to pay undis­puted amounts while your com­plaint is be­ing con­sid­ered. The provider can take credit ac­tion, in­clud­ing dis­con­nec­tion, on any un­paid amounts not in dis­pute.

If you are not happy with the way the provider re­sponds to your com­plaint, you can ask Util­i­ties Com­plaints to look into it.

They can con­sider com­plaints where the amount in dis­pute is up to $50,000, or up to $100,000 if the provider agrees. If you do not ac­cept the out­come you can take your com­plaint to an­other fo­rum, such as the Dis­putes Tri­bunal or the District Court. For more in­for­ma­tion ring Util­i­ties Dis­putes freep­hone 0800223340 or visit their web­site.

■ For free and con­fi­den­tial ad­vice and in­for­ma­tion on this or any other mat­ter visit the Palmer­ston North Ci­ti­zens Ad­vice Bu­reau (CAB) in Han­cock Com­mu­nity House, 77 King St, Mon-Fri from 9 am-4.30 pm, 357 0647 or 0800 367 222. We have a free le­gal ad­vice ser­vice by qual­i­fied lawyers most Thurs­day evenings at 7.30 pm, and a JP is avail­able on Tues­days from noon — 2.30pm. No ap­point­ment is nec­es­sary for ei­ther of these ser­vices.

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