Surprise gas price rise

BALLARAT resident Megan Lloyd was shocked to receive a gas bill for nearly $2000 at the end of November.

The bill, which was due to be paid before Christmas, was higher than for the same period in 2011, even through she had undertaken an alteration to her living room to make it easier to heat.

On analysing her bills for the year, Ms Lloyd found that gas prices rose substantially in the past six months.

She said the price increases were as high as 43.92 per cent and, on average over a six month period, were up by 30 per cent on the start of the period.

There was also a new charge for “service to property”.

Now, she is concerned that the community does not know just how much gas prices have increased.

“There has been much talk in the media about increased electricity prices, but I was unaware that significant increases in the unit cost of gas were also to be expected,” she said.

“As I had undertaken an alteration to my living room to make it easier to heat, and had been conscious of our gas usage, I was expecting a gas bill to be lower than the same period last year. The bill was in fact higher.”

To make matters worse, Origin had billed her for a six month period instead of three, and they had also chosen to ‘roll’ her into a different account without consultation or her agreement, Ms Lloyd said.

A spokesperson for Origin said Origin’s gas and electricity prices increased by around 14 per cent on July 1, 2012, driven primarily by the introduction of the federal government’s price on carbon.

“We worked with this customer at the end of last year following her contact with the Victorian Ombudsman’s office, to confirm the bill in question was accurate and reflected increased gas consumption at her premises,” he said.

“Because the account was based on a longer than normal billing period, Origin extended the due date to the account until July 2013.

“We’re always happy to work with customers to help them understand the reasons for energy rate increases, the effect consumption has on their energy bills, and to provide tools and advice to help manage their energy costs.”

Ms Lloyd has not paid the bill and is still in contact with the Victorian Ombudsman’s office over the matter.

She believes there needs to be more open communication about the way companies charge consumers.

“I believe the  state government has a big responsibility to demand these companies lay out how how they charge,” she said.

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