This is essentially a legal question -- if there are any lawyers out there
I live in a six-unit coop apartment. About a year ago we converted our
furnace from oil to natural gas. This required installation of a new gas
Almost at once it was evident that we were being significantly under-billed
for our gas service. It also became clear that the gas company's meter
readings on the bill did not correspond to those on the meter itself. Our
billings were wildly erratic. For instance, the billing for January, one of
the coldest months on record, was half the billing for December, which was a
relatively warm month.
We called, and then wrote the gas company, and each time we were assured all
was right. We have had at least six contacts with the gas company over this
We estimate that our gas heating costs for 2009 came in about one-third of
what we were expecting -- and budgeting.
So my question is, what if this situation continues for several years, and
then the gas company discovers a reading error and hits us for a bill for
thousands of dollars?
What is our legal obligation under such a scenario?
I'm guessing that as a practical matter, the issue would be resolved through
Well the gas co estimated our building for 6 years then sent about a
US$ 50,000.00 bill because they finally read it, they settled for
35,000.00 or the gas would have been shut off, Lawyers you pay extra ,
and for what.
Read your own meter, pay now what you know you owe. How far off is
the reading now.
A new gas furnace can be 1/2 as much to run as a junker oil unit , or
maybe more. And now gas is super cheap for us compared to a year ago
and years ago, so, how far off is your reading from the meter, the
bill amount isnt the issue its your accurate reading now to what is on
the bill. Does reading say ACT for actual, or EST for estimate, its
common for estimates every other month.
Simply call in your correct reading every month, I do it online. Set
up an online account, I have many and am notified whan a reading is
due and its all done online in a few minutes.
If you dont pay whats owed on the bill you will pay interest, and
they will want a big big security deposit. If bill is to low pay what
you know you owe or they will stick you with interest.
How could they possibly "stick us for interest" when we pay the amount they
bill us, and, further, when we have repeatedly told them that they are
under-billing us? I don't think there's a court in the land that would
uphold interest charges for incorrect billings by the gas company.
We are, however, putting money into escrow if they do try to hit us for a
delayed billing, as they did with you.
Not a legal answer, but are you sure that some of the erroneous readings
aren't estimated readings (maybe every other month)? If they don't have
usage history on your building, that may cause it. If it is an estimated
usage, it should be noted on your bill.
Often gas co. uses estimated reading and once in a while meter is read
and bill will be adjusted. They do that out at my cabin. At the end I
end up paying what I owe or vice versa. Don't you have an option to read
the meter yourself and submit the reading to the gas co.? Estimate
reading works pretty good after a year which time they know the
consumption pattern. Any how if you over paid, at the end you'll get
credit. If under paid, you may have to pay larger than usual amount to
catch up. No matter wht, I think gas co. has upper hand. Legally what
can you do?
We got a new meter for the gas more than a year ago. A wireless
transmitting unit. The truck just drives by.
What I understand is these newer units are more accurate and they are
more precise, regarding actual cubic feet of gas used. IOW, my reading
may be as accurate?
I don't know what kind of gadget is used to read meters electronically,
but...is it possible there is some interference or obstacle that would
cause the reader to pick up the signal for the wrong meter?
Highly unlikely; these devices use a communications protocol including
ID, etc., that makes confusion between devices themselves unlikely.
As others noted, it's possible there's a mixup in the
records/database/elsewhere about who's meter is whose, of course.
(Although you'd think somebody w/ 3X their normal usage to compensate
for the under-usage of OP would also be complaining if were that simple
Hard to believe a utility company would fail to check up pretty
seriously w/ a customer who's complaining there billings are
_significantly_ low... :)
I'd as others have mentioned suggest the OP escalate the discussion up
the food chain and follow up w/ written correspondence rather than just
the phone call if can't receive actual satisfaction or still think is
real cause for concern.
Also as others noted there's the uncertainty in what OP is reporting vis
a vis what the billing statement actually is stating.
And, of course, the other issue of not only did they upgrade the boiler
they switched from oil to gas -- we have no information on whether the
rate conversion comparison OP is expecting is based on correct
assumptions of $/therm for each fuel and relative efficiencies, etc.,
etc., etc., ...
NG is typically cheaper than oil in most markets but no indications here
of any of that.
Not an attorney. But, my utiltiy company used to
let you read and report your own meter reading
every other month or so. I remember, when I was a
teen, it was a lot of fun to read the gas meter,
and mail in the form.
My bill has the "meter number" which is inside the
glass, by the reading dials. Perhaps you're
reading the wrong meter? Take your bill, in hand,
and go check the numbers. That might be the
You mentioned six units in your place?
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