Free gas? ? ?

This is more of a legal question than a home-repair question, but maybe someone has experience or ideas.
In January we converted the boiler-furnace heating system for our six-unit apartment building from oil to gas.
Everything worked perfectly, and in the first month, the cost of our gas was pretty much what we expected.
Then in the second and third months, the gas bill went down to around one-tenth of what we were expecting -- around $200 for the coldest month, when we were expecting $2,000. I assumed there was some sort of meter malfunction.
Afraid we were likely to get hit with a huge catch-up bill, I called the gas company, and after several conversations, they didn't seem to know any more than I did. They suggested we just watch it and see what happens.
My question is, if they do hit us with a $10,000 bill, do we have to pay it?
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Ray wrote:

Suggest you set up a savings account and deposit the estimated amount each month. IF they ever do hit you then you will have the money (Plus interest you keep). Also document that you contacted them so you can say it is their fault:-))
Lou
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Ray wrote:

Yeah, but they will let you do it in installments, and maybe even negotiate it down, if you have a paper trail that you suspected a problem. You are right to chase it now, but you need to talk to a manager, not a tier-one CSR. I suspect they are estimating your bill. Does it say 'est' or 'act' anywhere on the bill? Other way is to start reading the meter yourself, and comparing it to the numbers on the bill. Don't know what your rates are, but around here on a cold month, I can pay close to $200 for a 1400 foot single residence with less-than-ideal insulation.
-- aem sends...
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Is it possible the low bill you received was an estimated bill? Some gas companies will do that if they can't access the meter. Otherwise, look at your meter readings for the 1st month bill ( the high one). Then compare it with the second and third months. If you indeed used less therms in the second and third months, then either your heating system is very efficient, or there is some kind of mechanical problem with your meter. $200 sounds low for a 6 unit apt building. Try this test, turn on the heating system and look at the meter and see if the dials are turning.
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You only pay what the meter says as long as it isnt tampered with. I would not have called the gas co, If it is the meter saving you thousands they will replace it very soon, rest assured. I had a broken meter for years.
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Ray wrote:

Sure, there's no such thing as a free gas.
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Certainly is. Quantity and quality depends on diet though.
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You been to the grocery lately? Hardly what I would consider free!
--
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
-Unknown
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Yes, you do. Most utilities will give you extra time though.
Learn to read the gas meter. Somewhere along the line your meter is not being read properly, a common error. Your meter may be reading in higher units than the typical residential, thus the factor of 10.
Having been through this a few time I'm confident they are just ignorant. The town where I work misread out water meter for 12 years before they noticed the faceplate had a "X10" on it. They also read another meter when they did not use the decimal point. These are alleged experienced employees that have been reading meters for years.
We also have electric meters with multipliers. One is X10, the other is X42. One of our gas meters is read daily with a telemeter. If it fails, we get an estimated bill usually double the actual use.
Take a close look and put the money aside.
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When I lived in a condo one day I came home to find out my gas was shut off. It turned out the neighbor had not paid their bill and the meters had been crossed up since the original construction. The gas company went back to day 1 and figured out that I had actually been overpaying, since the neighbors used more. So, I got a credit. I assume they collected from the neighbor, but don't know for sure.
In the OP's case, I think one key thing to do is for him to go read the meter himself and see what it says he's using. If the meter is recording it correctly and it's a billing thing, then I'd say they are going to come after him for the money due at some point. On the other hand, if the meter is malfunctioning, then as someone else pointed out, it's probably a different story and at least harder for them to collect. I guess if the meter just stopped recording, they could take the position that they are due an amount based on prior years averages.
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gas
more
it?
General answer: yes, provided this is a bill for gas actually delivered to you. In this part of the world household gas distribution points have visible meters, somewhat like electricity meters, and gas bills (like electricity bills) show the actual amounts delivered. If bills are different where you live, you should keep your own records i.e. record the gas meter indication at least once a month. This lets you calculate the quantity consumed, and check this against the bill.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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I had something like that, once. The power company was estimating the bill. I went to the meter, read it, and did the numbers. Much higher usage than their estimate. I called and told them about the actual numbers, and got them to send a bill out that was marked "customer read". But, at least it was the right ammount.
If they bill you, later, for the actual usage of gas OF COURSE you pay it! D'uh! Why even ask?
--
Christopher A. Young
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