Legal question? ? ?

Page 2 of 3  

We have six units, but the meter in question is the single building-wide meter which measures gas supplied to water heater and furnace.
I've taken the bill to the meter, and the meter number is absolutely the same as the one on the bill.
What differs is the meter readings -- their readings are altogether different, and wildly erratic, from the reading on the meter itself.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray wrote:

Have you asked the utility specifically to take a visual at the meter at the same time they read it electronically? Seems that would be a reasonable request. I would also make the specific request in writing, send certified mail and keep copies. It's a tad frightening to contemplate a huge bill coming along some day and one would reasonably expect that if there is a large sum billed someday that your notice to them would limit your liability.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It appears (so far) that no one has yet verified which meter is connected to which household. (This was the problem among water meters at my sister's new house, one of six. The installer erred in recording which numbered meter measured which residence -- easily verifiable by observing which meter suddenly accelerated when a water tap was opened.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

What part of the first sentence did you find confusing?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I would think the state agency that regulates the gas utility would be able to tell you about how this works.
--
I get off on '57 Chevys
I get off on screamin' guitars
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

There appears to be two potentially different issues. One is some months you don't use as much gas as you think you should. That could definitely be due to estimated billing, differences in how many days between meter reading, etc. I've seen bills where it is not necessarily obvious if it was estimated unless you look carefully.
The more troubling issue is that the meter readings never are the same as the actual meter. I don't know how you would know that unless you recorded the meter yourself every few days. And also that you say the yearly amount is 1/3, which sure would seem to indicate something is wrong.
It's possible they are not even reading the correct meter and have the wrong one tied to your account. That happened to me in a new condo. After several years, the neighbor had their gas shut off for non-payment. I came home to a cold house. When they installed the services, there are 4 located together and they had the lines/meters mixed up. In that case, the gas company went back to day 1, which was several years, and adjusted the bills. At least they adjusted mine, as I got a credit of several hundred bucks. Can't say for sure if they recovered that sum from the neighbors.
If you want to resolve it, I would call the gas company and have them send out someone to check the meter and go over this problem while someone knowledgable about the issue from your side is there. Take notes of the meeting, names, dates, photo of the meter reading, save the bills, etc. If they come after you 5 years from now, you could argue, perhaps successfully, that it's their fault and they have to eat it. Having good evidence would be key.
If you elect not to resolve it, then I would put some extra money into the reserves consistent with what you think you may have to pay someday. There is likely a statute of limitations in your state that covers how many years back they could go. There might also be utility regulations or consumer protection laws that cover it as well. But only a local lawyer is going to be able to give you those specifics.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks for the detailed response. There's no question that the monthly meter readings as recorded on the bill differ significantly from those on the meter itself. We have kept records carefully on this.
We've contacted the gas company several times and are always advised that things seem correct from their point of view, although on the phone one guy did acknowledge that it was unusual that we at times used more gas in summer than in winter. (The water heater is also connected to our gas mater.)
Yes, we are accumulating a reserve in case they come back with a monster-bill.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

OK, here's some more questions. Exactly how do they differ? Is it that they are just off by X amount one month Y another month, but overall what you see on the meter and the bill are at least tracking each other? Or are you saying that each month the readings grow further and further apart? Since you say the yearly bill is about 1/3 what you expected it to be, I would expect it's the latter? If so, then something is very wrong and I don't see how the gas company can just say everything is OK.
Also, how do you know what the meter actually reads on the day they say they read it? Is someone recording it daily? Are you sure you are reading the right meter? Does the meter # match the bill? Is there any other meter nearby that it could be crossed with? If there was any other meter around and if it was my own house, I'd shut off the valve at the meter and verify that the gas goes off at the furnace. In a 4 unit condo, you could do it, but need everyone home if there are gas appliances, water heaters etc that have pilot lights that need to be re-lit in the various units.
The fact that you use more gas some months in summer is particularly troubling. Heating water in a residential application is typically small compared to heating bills. In summer, my gas bill is usually less than $20 a month, while in winter, it can be 10X that. Of course it also depends on where you are located. My first suspicion would be that they somehow have your meter # crossed with some other account. In any case, with a situation this screwy they should be willing to send someone out and if no rational explanation can be determined, they should switch out the meter.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They read our meter electronically, sitting in a truck in our building driveway.
To use the most recent example: Their reading for February, dated Feb. 16, stated that we had used 560 units during the previous month.
Our meter, also read on Feb. 16, showed that we had in fact used 1730 units in the same period.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That's almost exactly a factor of 3 off. And you said earlier that the bill for the entire year was about 1/3 of what you thought it should be. Are you sure you are reading the meter correctly and both you and the utility are using the same units of measure, eg cubic feet?, etc?
I don''t understand why this can't be solved with a phone call. A simple month or two discrepancy I can understand. By now your bill says the meter reading is X and you say the meter reading is 3X and it;s been that way for a year. You get customer service from the gas company on the phone, state the above facts and if they can't either explain it or offer to send someone out to solve it, then ask for a supervisor. Or go over there in person.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Your example doesn't quite make sense.
The 560 units and 1730 units that you are comparing are not meter readings -- they are differences between two meter readings. Simply stating that they calculated that you used 560 units when you calculated that you used 1730 units doesn't say anything about what they say the meter reading was on on Feb 16 or what you say the meter reading was on Feb 16. You need to look at and compare what they said the actual meter reading was on Feb 16 and what the actual meter reading was on Feb 16 when you read it. Then, do the same thing for the January 16 (approx., +/- one or two days) -- meaning state what they said the actual meter reading was on January 16 and what the actual meter reading was on January 16 when you read it.
Or, to state it another way, a meter reading is not how many units you used during the previous month. A meter reading is what the numbers on the meter say on any particular date.
And, regarding the overall lower bills for heat and hot water -- meaning a lot less than you expected to pay ----> most likely when you converted from oil to gas, you removed a very old and very inefficient oil-fired heater unit and installed a brand new much more energy efficient gas-fired heater unit. Maybe your old oil heater was functioning at an efficiency rating around 55%-65% and maybe your new gas heater is functioning at 85% or 90%.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree. If this has been going on for a year and they are getting billed for 1/3 what their own meter readings indicate, then the actual meter reading numbers reported on the bill and their own reading must be miles apart. I don't understand how a gas company can be just saying everything looks ok from their standpoint when you have a customer saying I read the meter on the same date you did, Mine says 13456 yours says 9780. Last month mine said 13005, yours said 9900. It would seem if you really want this resolved, all you have to do is be firm with the gas company and insist on escalating it.

I agree that's a possibility. But to have the bills reduced by 2/3 overall from what they were expecting seems a bit extreme. Plus there is the mystery of how in some summer months they are getting billed for more usage than in winter months. If somehow their account is tied to someone else's meter, or the meter piping is crossed with another nearby meter, that would explain the whole thing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Feb 20, 6:00am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Thats obviously what it is, the equipment is sometimes reading another meter with this new remote reading system he has. He should just read it himself and send in what is correct and pay it, then complain.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

If the gas company's reading was 9900 one month and 9780 the next month, that means the customer put more into the gas line than he took out.
Do gas companies, like electric power providers, give you credit for generating more gas than you use?
Someone should look into this.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HeyBub wrote:

Sometimes, depending on my diet, I produce a lot of gas. No leak revealing odorous compound needs to be added to it.
TDD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray,
You haven't replied to my post.
Are you reading the actual meter readings (meaning the number on the meter), or are you reading the number of units used that you see on your bill. You seem to be comparing "units" used that they reported and not the actual meter readings.
Jay-T wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Smart to do. Technically, you are liable for payment of what you use. I have seen some cases though, where the utility gave people some time to pay up or forgave a portion of the payment due since it was their error. This is just based on a few things I've read from our newspaper and your utility may not work the same way. In any case, try to negotiate if they come back with a big bill. Your utility regulators may be of some help if needed.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 19 Feb 2010 08:38:15 -0500, "Ray"

The Public Utilities Commission of your state is the regulatory agent, contact them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
says...

If you don't already, keep a log of the meter readings. Check your invoice to make sure the meter number that is being billed is the same number as your actual meter, not just the correct address.
--
Dennis


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

We do keep a log.
One of the mysteries is that the number on the meter and on the bill coincide precisely. It's the readings that don't coincide. Ours are consistent -- the company's readings are wildly erratic, even chaotic.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.