Tony's story - meter readings

Tony was hit with huge bills from his energy company due to an error with his meter and was forced to take daily readings.

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Julia Somerville: When Tony moved his family here in 2004, he thought he’d found his dream home. But little did Tony know that there would come to be an expensive problem with the house.

Tony: When we first moved in of course when you move into any property you take a meter reading. We sort of monitored that over the first few years and our average quarterly payments was about £150.

Julia Somerville: But four years later in February 2008 his energy company sent a rather bigger quarterly bill.

Tony: We received a bill for our electricity supply of over £2,700. They said it was for back-billing for the four years we’d been here then.

Julia Somerville: His energy company told Tony, all the electricity bills since he’d moved in had been estimates and that he’d been dramatically undercharged, but Tony disputed that. To prove his case he took daily readings of his usage and after sending them to his energy company they accepted they’d made a mistake and all seemed fine. At least until November 2010, when he received another bigger than expected bill, this time for over £7,300. The energy company once again claimed the money apparently owed was for back-billing.

Tony: We had a visit by three men, one was a warrant officer, they gave me the choice of whether to pay on the day £7,300 to clear the account or to have a pre-paid meter put in.

Julia Somerville: Shocked, and unable to come up with more than £7,000 to pay the bill even if he wanted to, Tony had no choice but to agree to have the pre-payment meter fitted. He insists they couldn’t have used that much electricity, and of course since the energy company fitted that pre-payment meter, he’s got a way of proving exactly how much the family uses.

Tony: We take actual meter readings every day, we’ve got energy monitors in place. It gives us an annual bill of £805 on average for the electricity.

Julia Somerville: Fortunately for Tony, the energy ombudsman told his energy company to apologise and correct the bill.

Quick tips for tutors

A short video about the problems Tony faced when an error by his energy company left him with a huge electricity bill. Tony was forced to take daily readings in order to prove that he was not using as much electricity as the energy company said he was.

May be used in class to stimulate discussion around the featured story. Alternatively could be used to introduce the following topic(s):

  • Calculation
  • Multiplication & division
  • Rounding up and down