Bills, bills, bills

A slew of bills arrived at our postbox the other day. There was a bill for the electricity, one for each credit card, a phone bill and for the first time, a water bill. In all the years we’ve been living here in Australia, we’ve never had to pay for a single water bill before. Living in various apartment units in previous years with no water bills arriving, we have surmised that the water costs must already be included in the rent. Which was fine by us, that’s one less bill to worry about. On the other hand, I used to wonder if tenants who don’t pay for their own water are actually heeding the call to save water. After all, it’s easy to leave the tap on while brushing or shampooing your hair when you don’t have to think about having to pay for every single drop.

Scrutinising our quarterly water bill, we were curious how customers are charged. Itemised in the bill were water and sewarage service charges. Hmmm… both are necessities and aren’t something we can’t control so on to the next. There were 2 separate charges for the actual amount of water we’ve consumed and curious as to their pricing, we went to the retailer’s website. We found out that there are 3 pricing tiers they use to charge consumers. The higher your usage is, the more you pay. Good to know as there is now an incentive to save more water and perhaps even start thinking about recycling.

Failing to see any other way to save more from our water bill, we turned our attention to the electricity bill. According to the bill, we are currently subscribed to the TRU Energy’s At Home plan. The line item describing the amount we’re being charged read “At Home Peak”. Which led us to think, does that mean they have a special rate for “At Home Off Peak”? And if so, when does it kick in and how do avail ourselves of it?

A call to their customer service line and about a half-an-hour wait later, we found out that although they do have an off peak rate, we’ll would need to have a special meter fitted. Since we made the call after hours, the consultant couldn’t transfer our call to the department which handles enquiries regarding these meters. Ok, on to the next question. As we’ve recently received a letter from the company asking us if we’d be interested in their Dual Fuel plan, we asked what it is all about. This plan is being offered to customers who get both their electricity and gas supplies from TRU Energy. Instead of having to pay one huge bill every quarter, they would estimate the household’s usage and charge you monthly instead. This would mean better budgeting because of fixed and smaller amounts to pay every month. Meter readings would still be done and if the amount of usage changes, the monthly payments would also adjust. It does have its advantages but we prefer to pay for our actual usage (as opposed to estimates that may be changed later anyway) so we haven’t really decided yet if we’d like to sign up for this plan.

With the electricity and water bills sorted out, the only bright spot in the mail seemed to be with the telephone bill since it shows a $13.87 credit. I’ve taken advantage of a package deal from our ISP and have switched our fixed phone line when I signed up for their broadband more than a month ago. Thinking that the line has now been transferred to the ISP, I called up Telstra to arrange a refund for the amount mentioned. Simple enough you say? After reciting my phone number several times, answering “Yes/No” to their automated service system with the high-tech, low usability voice recognition and being transferred to five consultants, I was beginning to wonder if the amount was even worth all this trouble. One man I talked to informed me that my account with them is still active despite the transfer being completed since mid-December last year. He also added that I may even receive more bills from them as there is no indication in their system that the phone line has been inactivated. After this spiel, he asked if I still want to have get the refund now or wait till the final bill. Stuff it, I’ll get the refund now. He transferred me to a lady who finally arranged to get the cheque sent to me (in 5-7 days was what she said). The conversation with her took about 30 seconds after about 20 minutes of explaining, waiting between transfers and listening to the hold music. Don’t you just love calling customer service these days?


Published in: on January 19, 2006 at 3:26 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Telecomms providers are notorious for bad service especially if you’re calling to cancel. Telstra is particularly bad. A friend of mine had to to set up a Telstra ADSL2 account just so they would set up the connection. Now he’s trying to cancel so he can use the ISP he really wanted and getting all sorts of grief. We transferred from an Optus account and until now, Optus still hasn’t allowed our ISP to transfer the phone. It’s so silly, isn’t it?

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