Letter to the Editor – Canberra Times

Thursday 06 April 2017

Statement by ActewAGL CEO Michael Costello

I acknowledge the increasing, widespread customer concern in relation to billing, often expressed through your Letters to the Editor page. I sincerely apologise to all our customers who’ve suffered the frustration and stress of having to deal with an incorrect gas bill or estimated bill from ActewAGL.

We have a problem, which has multiple complications, that is resulting in different and unexpected technical outcomes that are generating incorrect bills, particularly around estimated bills.

We take full responsibility for this, but by way of explanation, this is a complex issue stemming from an industry-wide system change that we were directed to make by the national regulator last year.

Gas meter data is collected by distribution companies and is fed into the ‘market’ so that all gas retailers can access the information to bill their customers. It’s a convoluted process with many ‘touch points’ along the supply chain – from a customer’s premises to the meter reading business, to the distribution network, to the market operator, and then to gas retailers who process your gas bill. The system change tightened the timeframe for recording and processing gas meter information, causing issues with meter information between all gas distributers and retailers in the ACT and NSW.

As CEO of this organisation, which has both distribution and retail arms, I am disappointed that we haven’t been able to recalibrate the entire process to consistently provide accurate billing. Since last year we have made some progress in reducing the number of estimated bills being generated, but much more work needs to be done.

From the Board right through to the staff who are trying to help every customer when they call ActewAGL – we are all feeling the frustration that this issue is causing and we’re working in crisis mode to get our billing right. This involves a dedicated team of internal and external experts checking systems and processes, end-to-end, through the billing pipeline.

In addition to responding to customers who contact us directly, we have proactively attempted to follow up with customers who’ve expressed concerns with their bill either through the Canberra Times or social media. I also strongly encourage any customers who have issues with their gas billing to please contact our customer team on 13 14 93.

I know this is causing some people a lot of anger and stress – quite rightly – and we will work with them individually to ensure they pay only for the gas they’ve consumed. I also want to assure customers that we will rectify this system problem as soon as possible.

Learn more about estimated gas billing.