Investigate Jemena for fraudulent meter-reading practices
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Ever wondered why your gas bills always contain erroneous and outrageous estimated readings, and no matter what gas retailers you switch to, the problem remains?
The root of the problem lies in Jemena. This private company, which is jointly controlled by the State Grid Corporation of China and Singapore Power, owns the gas network in NSW and has a monopoly to distribute gas to homes and businesses in the state.
Every month or quarter, Jemena provides gas meter readings to all the different retailers, such as Energy Australia and Origin Energy. These retailers then use the readings provided by Jemena to calculate your bill, based on the rates they offer.
And here comes the problem: because gas retailers rely solely on the readings provided by Jemena to issue your bill, and because Jemena owns the monopoly of gas distribution in NSW, we, the end consumers, have been subject to Jemena's manipulation and abuse of power.
For the past two years or so, I have been trying to solve the problem of consistently wrong readings or blatantly outrageous estimated readings with my gas meters. No matter how I switched from one retailer to another, and no matter how I moved from one suburb to another, the gas meter-reading nightmare is never-ending.
Our household first had AGL, and then we switched to Origin Energy, and then we switched again to Energy Australia. It did not solve the problem. A customer service officer at Origin told me previously that it doesn't matter which retailer I'm with because at the end of the day, Jemena is the only one who determines your meter readings.
And Jemena has a questionable modus operandi, which rips off consumers again and again, non-stop. Based on my own experience, here's how Jemena operates:
1. Every year, we are entitled to at least ONE Actual Reading. If you receive bills on a quarterly basis, you are entitled to 1 actual reading after 3 estimated readings. However, Jemena would always continue to provide estimated readings even after 3 quarterly estimated readings, and more often than not, these readings were blatantly wrong.
2. If you have two gas meters, just like my home, Jemena would always get away by providing actual readings to only one of the meters, but continuing with estimated readings with your other meter. They, together with your gas retailer, would then deceive you by saying that your overall bill had "actual" readings.
2. When I called the gas retailers to try to get the problem fixed, they would always tell me that the readings were provided by Jemena, and that the only thing they could do was sending a request to Jemena for a special meter read.
3. But Jemena would always try very hard to avoid giving you an actual read. Below were the excuses they have given me for the past two years or so, and they repeated their modus operandi over and over again.
- Firstly, they said that they provided estimated readings because their meter readers had no access to your apartment building. They also asked you to check with your building manager to arrange for access.
- You then checked with your building manager, and found out that Jemena's meter readers actually have a master key to access your building.
- You called your gas retailer/Jemena to confront them. They then proposed another date to go to your home for meter reading, and asked that you stay at home to provide them access just in case.
- You stayed at home. You waited all day but Jemena's meter reader did not appear. You called your gas retailer/Jemena to confront them again. This time, they told you that your meters were so-called "smart meters", meaning they didn't need to come to your home to read your meters because all the data was automatically sent to their "data-logger".
- By this time, you were already confused. So, which version of their words is true? First they said they had no access, and then they said they didn't need an access. They shift between these two excuses depending on what you complain about.
- You then jotted down your meter readings every day, and took pictures of your meter readings every quarter, and sent the evidence to your gas retailer/Jemena. With your photo evidence, Jemena then proposed to go to your home to "fix" your meter, because according to them, the meter was broken.
- Jemena replaced your gas meter, and you thought you finally solved the problem because the meter now starts with a reading of 0000 0000, which means all future gas usage should be correctly captured. You were wrong.
- By the time you received your next bill, you noticed that Jemena provided estimated readings again, which were blatantly wrong and overestimated. You took pictures of your meters again and again, and sent them the evidence again and again, but they would continue to ignore you and continue to overcharge you.
- The problem got dragged on for quarters/years, and there's nothing you could do. Worst still, they would mark your readings as "actual readings" even though they are not, and then your retailer issued your bill as an "actual reading bill" when it is not, so that they could shut your mouth up.
There is no way we could escape from this because Jemena controls the entire gas distribution network in NSW. Switching to other gas retailers won't help because only Jemena has a say of what your readings are. And they could make up all sorts of readings because they are not subject to public scrutiny. Because they have the monopoly.
Sign this petition to get the NSW State Government and/or the Federal Government to investigate the questionable modus operandi of Jemena. We must hold Jemena accountable for all the ridiculous gas bills we paid and are paying.
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