AGL just as bad in South Australia

AN elderly South Australian Housing Trust resident was so upset to receive a quarterly electricity bill for almost $4500 she ended up in hospital. Greenwith widowed pensioner Wilma Verneulem, 72, yesterday told The Advertiser she was stunned to open an account from energy provider AGL demanding $4489.71 for just three months of electricity use.

Residents in a group of six units where Mrs Verneulem has lived since 1993 said it was the final straw in a Housing Trust and electricity supplier bungle that has been ongoing for more than a decade.

An advocate for the residents, Doug Eadon, yesterday said over the years people living in the group of six units at Nellan Dare Court had received electricity bills for all of the units in one of their names.

"It is beyond a joke – Wilma was taken to the Modbury Hospital the other day with high blood pressure because of all the stress about this," Mr Eadon said.

After inquiries by The Advertiser yesterday, an AGL spokeswoman said the utility would contact Mrs Verneulem to "sincerely apologise for the incorrect high bill". She said the error was due to a "mismatch between the distributor's meters at Mrs Verneulem's property".

"As a consequence, incorrect consumption was calculated which resulted in the high bill," she said. "Due to the inconvenience caused, AGL will waive the outstanding charges."

Opposition housing spokeswoman Vickie Chapman yesterday said a State Government policy to charge tenants for an essential service without giving them independent meters caused such problems.

Housing Minister Jennifer Rankine said there would be an inspection today by Housing SA officers to "ensure the residents are happy".

Letter to Accountant, Chaos headquarters, AGL

Dear Sir,

It sure is a long, long road to get sense out of AGL.

I am of course pleased that you have at last taken note of previous approaches from me and from the Ombudsperson and revised my gas bill to show nil owing. Progress! We still have two more baby steps to go, however.

The enclosed gas bill is addressed to "Mister Ray", despite umpteen requests to address it to "Dr John Ray". Why is that so hard to fix? If you doubt my credentials, my doctorate was awarded in 1974 by Macquarie University. Check with them.

Secondly, the bill is addressed to 2/19 Longwood St for some unknown reason. The supply is for 1/19 Longwood St and the bill should also be so addressed. Why is that so hard?

And the electricity bill also returned herewith is invalid. Your authority to charge me for supply at 2/19 Longwood St was withdrawn last year. The bill should be coming from Origin. I don't know how many times this has been raised with you but please be advised that I will not pay the bill until it comes from Origin. Work on it!

Yours amazedly

Letter to Accountant, AGL Electricity, Brisbane

Dear Sir,

Please find returned herewith a curious collection of documents recently received from you. I think I get the point you intend to make.

Please amend your records so that my salutation is "Dr", not "Mister"

Please also note that your authority to charge me for supply at 2/19 Longwood St was withdrawn last year

Yours amazedly

Dr John Ray
Threatening letter

TO: Energy Ombudsman

Re: AGL gas bill for 1/19 L*** St

Dear Sir,

I have written to you about this matter. I have written to AGL accounts in Brisbane. I have written to the AGL internal ombudswoman in Melbourne about this matter but all I get is the threatening letter enclosed.

To reiterate: I was recently told by AGL via you that my gas usage was too small to raise a bill but now I am told that I owe $95. My gas usage is of course unchanged at a very low level. I want the matter re-examined before I pay this bill.

Please see if you can get an intelligent response out of AGL.
TO The chief accountant, AGL

Dear Sir

I enclose an electricity bill for 2/19 L**** St which you recently sent me. Once again I draw to your attention that you are not authorized to send me that bill. The bill should be coming from Origin Energy.

I originally responded to your salesman by transferring billing authorization for flats 1, 2 and 3 to you but in view of your bungling I cancelled the authorization for flat 2 on October 31, 2007. I did so on the supplied form and within the allowed time. I enclosed with the form a letter which I have now posted online for all to view. You can view that letter here:


Your office subsequently rang me to confrm that the cancellation had been received.

To date, however, the cancellation has not been acted on. Please do so NOW!

Your serial incompetence defies belief. All I have ever asked from you is correctly made-out accounts but that seems to be quite beyond you. I have started a blog recording my letters to and about you in the desperate hope that someone there might be motivated by publicity to get your house in order. See:


Neither I nor the Energy Ombudsman have had any success with you so far.

Yours faithfully

Dr John RAY
The confusion continues


Dear Sir,

I have received what appear to be two different gas accounts for the same premises - 1/19 L*** St. Please advise which one is correct. I enclose them.

Also please explain the amounts. I have a letter from the Energy Ombudsman dated 1 May 2008 in which he advises that my gas account was $284.28 in credit. How did I go so rapidly from credit to debit -- and why is the debit much higher than usual?

I note also that my electricity accounts still require action. Please withdraw the debit for 2/19 L*** St -- which you were not authorized to raise -- and reissue the invoice for 1/19 L*** St properly made out to me at that address. I note that I have not yet received ANY electricity bill made out to 1/19 L*** St.

I note that I have paid the electricity bill for 3/19 L*** St as it was clearly made out. Please ensure that your records show that.

You have a propensity to "lose" awkward correspondence but please do not "lose" this letter -- as you will just move your obligation to answer to the Ombudsman if you do that
A tiny bit of progress

TO: Energy Ombudsman, S. Bris.

Thank you for your letter of 11th.

I advise that I have indeed sent in a written reversal of my changeover agreement for 2/19 L**** St electricity supply. I sent it in to AGL using the supplied form and within the specified timeframe. I also included an explanatory letter (copy enclosed) at the same time.

AGL don't do written replies to mere customers unless the Ombudsman prods them so the reply I got from AGL in reponse to my form was by phone -- assuring me that the reversal had been done. Obviously, it has not however.

Please get them moving on it

Thank you for the clarification of the intent of the most recent electricity bills. Next time you are speaking to them you might remind them to reissue the bills with the particulars corrected. I cannot pay them until that is done.

I note that my letter to you of June 27 regarding new gas bill madness from AGL still awaits your reply.

AGL are beyond parody
Gas bill madness revived

TO: Energy Ombudsman, S. Brisbane, Qld

Dear Sirs/Mesdames,

It's hard to believe it but AGL just got worse. There has been absolutely no movement over the invalid electricity bills they sent me and now their gas bills are back in contention as well.

Last time I heard from them my gas accounts had been sorted out and I was in credit by over $200. That was apparently too good to last. Enclosed find what I have just received. There are two quite different bills for two quite different amounts but both of them are said to be for flat 1. But that is only the start. Both bills appearently cover a period in excess of a year: 580 days in one case and 457 days in another. What on earth am I to make of it? One might have expected a covering letter in explanation but no such letter was received. I will not of course be paying either bill in the circumstances.

And to cap it all, I found an AGL contractor changing the gas meter for flat 3 today. I pointed out that it was the meter for flat1 that was questionable but he had his paperwork and that was that. I must say that I found it offensive that he attacked my gas meters without first approaching me in any way and I think I deserve an apology and an undertaking that there will be no further such invasions of privacy and property rights.

This firm is so unbelievably bad that I think their operating licence should be withdrawn. That might be an example to others.

I had a couple of calls from the Energy Ombudsperson last week. They have apparently been talking to AGL about my matter.

But not a peep out of AGL as yet.

The gas and electricity companies that we had for years here in Brisbane never gave me any problems. Very sad that they were taken over.

The Ombudsman penalizes them whenever they have to contact them. $110 a throw I think it is. But nothing can move stupidity, it seems.

A weird thing is that AGL have their own internal Ombudsperson -- Jessica Hollingsworth. But she is useless as sh*t.

The only consolation I can think of is that AGL have not as yet sunk to the depths of British Gas -- but you have to be British to sink that low (invading people's houses while they are away etc.) -- I hope.

The appalling story of one couple's troubles with BG (British Gas) is told here

BG have been trying to take over some Australian energy company recently. I fervently hope they fail. The Australian government should legislate to block the b*stards if need be.

I gather that BT (British Telecom) is the world's worst telephone company too. Incompetent bureaucracies (public or private) seem to be part and parcel of the British "genius".
Letter of 13 May 2008

TO: Jessica Hollingsworth, AGL, Melbourne

Thank you for your letter of April 30 regarding my Brisbane gas account. I note that my letter about my electricity account has as yet had no reply. No doubt that has been "lost" too. AGL clearly loathes talking to its customers. Not smart. That I have to write to someone in Melbourne about Brisbane matters seems symptomatic of AGL's moronic policy ideas.

Your letter of 30th STILL has not complied with my original request. So I have to raise the matter again with the Ombudsman? I asked you to return whichever of the two versions of my last gas account that you finally decided was the right one. That you claim to have "lost" both is no excuse. Send a copy.

I further note that you have now twice sent me revised versions of my gas accounts WITHOUT any explanatory letter. Has it occurred to you that getting an unexpected bill can be alarming to people? On both occasions the account should have arrived with an accompanying letter of apology. There was none. Even a cockroach has better manners than AGL.
Letter to AGL Brisbane

Why is the enclosed bill addressed to me in such an offensive manner? It should be addressed to "Dr J.J. Ray", not "Mister Ray".

I refuse to be insulted. I will not pay the bill until you reissue it in a more polite form
Letter to Energy Ombudsman, Qld.

Thank you for your efforts to get my AGL gas bill sorted out. I advise, however, that they have still to contact me in the matter.

Meanwhile, I have now received some ELECTRICITY bills from AGL and they are just as deranged as my gas bills. There are three electricty supplies at my premises: Divided into flats 1, 2 and 3. The accounts for all three are in my name. AGL have sent me TWO quite different bills for flat 2. Which one is right?

If that is not crazy enough note THREE further oddities:

1) They know only my surname.

2). I have so far received a bill for flat 3 but no bill for flat 1.

3). I specifically WITHDREW my authorization for them to supply Flat 2. They even rang me some months ago acknowledging that. I should have received a bill from the previous supplier, not AGL.

As I have found it quite pointless to write to them lately, I am writing directly to you in this matter and enclose the two strange bills for flat 2.

It seems to me that you need to take the heaviest possible action you can against this rogue firm.
Letter to Accounts, AGL, Brisbane

Which of the apparently duplicated bills enclosed do you wish me to pay?

I have already paid the earlier one. You cashed the cheque for $70.00 on Dec 28th.

Please advise and return the earlier account.