National 5.9.2016 09:46 am

Couple battles Tshwane metro over ever-growing R100k monthly bill

Meter box found opened and the bill exhorbitant

Meter box found opened and the bill exhorbitant

‘We disputed this, asking for proof, as a couple’s residence could not run a bill of over R90 000 in a month.’

A Centurion couple is battling to disprove a monthly utility bill of more than R104 000, Centurion Rekord reports.

And the longer the fight by the pair from Maraboe Avenue in Rooihuiskraal continues, the bigger the bill grows.

‘Our bill is usually around R3 000, and we were surprised to see such a large amount.’

They asked not to be named, as the woman was employed by the metro and feared victimisation.

The man said: “Our bill stands at R104 688.58 since April for one month’s electricity, which cannot be right.”

The man said the fee was growing, and they had even received final notices from the metro.

“This issue has been going on for months, and every time we think we have made progress, we go back to square one.”

“Our bill is usually around R3 000, and we were surprised to see such a large amount.”

The man said they had reported the matter to the metro and steps had been taken to resolve the matter.

The couple contacted Tshwane metro head of electricity Robert Masongani shortly after their power was cut recently, but a permanent solution has not yet been found.

“After numerous calls and referrals to the metro office, we were provided with a metro meter inspector.”

“The inspector came to our home around the first week of August and he said the bill was not reflecting a realistic amount and the unit meter number needed correcting.”

Unit meter

Unit meter

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“I was informed the metro would inspect and replace the meter, as our meter number did not match what was on their system.”

The couple said they had not received a utility bill from December 2015 until March 2016.

In April, the couple went to the metro offices to find out how much they owed since they had not received a bill for four months.

They were told they owed around R3 000, which they paid.

“We enquired multiple times about not receiving statements and received a SMS shortly after (the enquiries) reporting the matter, stating we owed R90 000.”

“We went to the offices again to try and resolve the matter.”

Three weeks after their second enquiry, the couple went to the metro officers again, as they still had not received a bill and were now told they owed R95 000.

“We disputed this, asking for proof, as a couple’s residence could not run a bill of over R90 000 in a month.”

He said they were fined, and their bill accumulated to more than 100 000.

“We have since informed the inspector about the meter unit not matching the meter reading. We have been paying our bills.”

He also blamed the unexplainable amount on possible illegal connections, as their metre box was often left open.

An enquiry was sent to the metro.

Metro media liaison officer Klaas Mofomme confirmed the enquiry was received and forwarded to the billing department for the necessary adjustment.

“I’m hoping to get feedback before 1pm today (Monday). We’ll provide a response once the billing department has finalised the matter.”

Meanwhile, a report by Schindlers Attorneys in June explains what happens when the metro sent homeowners a bill that could be proven inaccurate.

A verdict handed down in the High Court in Pretoria was in favour of the resident.

In this case, Gallagher Estates contested a bill from the City of Johannesburg.

Meter box found opened and the bill exhorbitant

Meter box opened

Candidate attorney Lindelani Msomi and Chantelle Gladwin, partner at Schindlers Attorneys, said the important precedent was not the consumer’s responsibility to prove the charges billed were wrong or based on a nonfunctioning meter.

“It is rather the municipality’s responsibility to first prove the charges are correct and/or based on a functioning meter,” they said.

“Once a consumer has logged a revenue-related query based on justified inferences that the billing is wrong, the burden rests on the municipality to investigate the issue, and the meter, if necessary.”

The duo concluded: “This was a victory for municipal consumers, as it removed the responsibility of the consumer in legal proceedings to prove that the municipality’s charges were wrong and/or that meters were not functioning properly.”

– Caxton News Service

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