This is a horror story posted at this personal blog: http://mephie1.blogspot.com/2010/10/toronto-hydro-and-ongoing-dispute.html
Toronto Hydro and an Ongoing Dispute
I find it incredibly ridiculous that after 8 1/2 months, I actually have to post this online in an effort to get Toronto Hydro to actually respond to an issue that I discovered in January. Since the initial phone call in late January, I have been brushed off by Toronto Hydro in trying to settle a billing dispute and have had to take many steps to try and rectify the situation. At this point absolutely nothing has worked. By posting on my blog, on Facebook, and on Youtube, perhaps I can spur them into acting on my complaint.
In late January, we received our hydro bill for the November-December billing period. The bill is in my brother's name and we have both been trying to solve this since January. It was apparent right from that point that there was some kind of mistake as the consumption for the billing period was incredibly high, and the bill itself was almost 200.00 over our average bill. I immediately phoned Toronto Hydro and from that point on we were given excuse after excuse as to why the bill was so high. (Another point to note is that the next billing period went back down to our average consumption level. This also indicated to me that there was a problem.)
Here are the numbers. Our average consumption was anywhere between 1100 and 1300 kwh for the last 24 billing periods. For this period however the consumption was indicated as being 2176 kwh. That is more than a 60% increase over our average. Our highest consumption in the last 24 months was only 1657 kwh, when we had a another family member staying with us who worked shift work. The consumption indicated on the January bill was 30 % above that. So, 60 % above our average consumption, and over 30% above our highest ever consumption was an indication that there was something wrong. I was referred to the usage tracking website. That site was useless. It showed me the usage sure, but that was based on the information from the meter. I can't verify it, I don't read the meter, and it is not like I actually see the hydro as I consume it.
Right from the onset, we were given excuse after excuse as to why our bill was so high. We were told that we had had a smart meter installed in October, and that the bill could absolutely not be wrong. The several assumptions were made that had to be corrected right away.
First it was suggested that it was our actual energy provider that we had to deal with because Toronto Hydro had no clue as to what we were being charged. This is ridiculous. The way the system works in Toronto, is that if you are not a Toronto Hydro consumer you are FORCED to deal with them as they do the billing for your actual energy provider. To suggest that they have no idea what we were being charged is ridiculous. They prepare the bills.
Second we were told that it was because the billing period was for November and December and that the consumption rate was higher because our furnace would have been on during those two months. Immediately it was pointed out to them that our heat is provided by the landlord in our building, and that it on a separate meter and our landlord is responsible for that.
Finally, and this one absolutely kills me, it was suggested that during December we would have had a higher consumption because we would have been running Christmas lights. They automatically assumed that we are a) Christian, and b) would have been running Christmas lights. Our religion is absolutely none of their business, and to assume either of those two things is ludicrous. It was immediately made clear to Toronto Hydro that our religion is irrelevant, and we did NOT put up Christmas lights in December because two of the three members of our household were away for the last half of December.
Since then, we have been in contact with our actual energy provider and they proved to be quite useful. They sent us the usage data for the last 24 billing periods and were eager to assist with this matter. When Toronto Hydro was asked for usage details, what we received was ONLY the details for the billing period in question. That was absolutely useless to us. We already HAD the information for that period.
During the summer, after months of trying to get Toronto Hydro to respond to this issue we took the following steps. We contacted our MP, our MPP, Hydro One, The Ontario Energy Board, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and the Ombudsman for the Province of Ontario. We got only two responses back. The first was from the Ombudsman's office who indicated to us that this was outside their purview.
The second response was from our MPP, Peter Tabuns. His office attempted to assist us with this matter, but they were given the same response. The meter couldn't be wrong and the consumption was based on the smart meter reading. The indicated to our MPP's office that they would be in contact with us to try and resolve this issue. As of yet, we have heard absolutely nothing from Toronto Hydro.
There are several things that I have discovered as this situation has progressed. First, as I said before, consumers are FORCED to deal with Toronto Hydro. We have no choice. We cannot even argue any point regarding our bills because we don't read the meters or see the data. We simply have to take their word for it that the bill is correct. Well, I won't do that.
Second, I have discovered that contacting government agencies simply doesn't work. The agencies in place to assist consumers seem to be useless. I heard absolutely nothing from the Ministry, Hydro One, or the Ontario Energy Board.
Finally there is the issue of how the bill itself is prepared. Consumers in Ontario are charged a delivery fee for their hydro, based on some formula that absolutely nobody is aware of. I asked around and of all the people that I asked, nobody knew how Toronto Hydro comes up with the delivery rate. When the government of Ontario sold off Ontario Hydro, there was a massive debt. Consumers in Ontario are now paying a debt reudction charge on every single bill. Now I could be wrong, but paying off the debt of a government agency is a TAX. For some reason, this particular fee is also taxed with HST (previously GST only). This means that we are currently paying 13% tax, on a tax. That is completely inane to me. Add to this the actual rising costs of hydro and things become even worse.
Ontario consumers are being gouged with increasing energy costs, unreasonable (and unfathomable) delivery charges on that energy, and tax on tax. This kind of thing has to stop or nobody in the province will be able to afford their basic hydro needs.
See also this post on today's blog: http://mephie1.blogspot.com/2010/11/will-power-go-out-on-dalton-mcguinty.html
In particular this petition: http://www.unfairtaxgrab.com/home.html
Officals don't get it. The Internet is a powerful tool for people to communicate to each other, express their displeasure over issues, and be activists in their own right. The Liberals will pay the price for that.