Friday, 15 May 2015

AGL Energy Limited a supplier of gas & coal based electricity is behaving badly yet again

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) sells and markets gas and electricity. It owns a number thermal stations, has an operational gas plant in the Camden area and approvals for exploration and production of coal seam gas in the Gloucester district in New South Wales. 

On 11 May 2015 Smart Company reported that:
The Australian Energy Regulator has penalised energy retailer AGL for disconnecting customers in hardship or on payment plans, with AGL South Australia and AGL Sales both receiving a $20,000 fine from the regulator.
Energy retailers are prohibited from disconnecting customers under certain circumstances, including when they are participating in a hardship program or a payment plan.
However the Australian Energy Regulator said in a statement this morning, it was notified by AGL of incidents in which nine of the company’s customers were wrongfully disconnected from their electricity supply.

This is not the first time that AGL has been in the news for behaving badly.

A quick Internet search brings up this disturbing timeline: 

* August 2003

* September 2004

* July 2005

* August 2006

* May 2008

* May 2009

June 2008 AGL became our electricity provider. This surprised us when we received the first "Dear Customer" letter from them in November, attempting to bill us all the way back to February!
In fact, we had been contracted to Simply Energy (gas + elec) for over a year and owned the house for four years. Every AGL customer "service" person attempts to convince us we just moved in!
Of course we called AGL after getting the November letter (actually two bills for different amounts). The help desk woman apologised, said she could see the account had been transferred to them in error, and promised to send us back to Simply Energy. "No need to worry about it". Famous last words.
Come April 2009, and two more envelopes arrive from AGL. Amount owing is over $1,100, please pay within two weeks. An entire afternoon wasted calling AGL then Simply Energy then AGL (with SE on the line), then AGL again. Each time the recorded voice said we owed a different amount! In the first call, AGL told me to tell SE to check MSATS (their common database) for the handover date. SE said it was June but AGL was billing back to February! SE confirmed we'd paid up to June. All good so far.
AGL claims that because 130 days had passed without hearing from SE, they _own_ our account, under law. They could well be right, but surely SE would be due compensation? AGL checked their own records and could see that they had reminded themselves in November to ask SE for a "winback", but never actually sent the message to them.
To add to the insult, two days after those phonecalls we received a letter from AGL thanking us for agreeing to this payment plan during your phonecall. We did nothing of the sort! We laughed when we saw the "instalment plan" was one payment of the full amount including the months already paid, due in June.  Ta.
The good thing about dealing with AGL is that you get to read up on what your rights are. You can read the entire ombudsman's website while you're on hold! In Victoria, utilities can't backbill residents for more than nine months' worth of power, and have to give an equivalent time to pay if requested. The longer they take to work their stuff out, the more free electricity we have received.
The last time I called them was a week ago, because they'd promised to call me by then. The guy was a lot more candid about the extent of their problems, said their complaints department was VERY busy and while they would try to ring me in the next week he couldn't guarantee it. Meanwhile (after I pressed him to say it) we should ignore the demands for payment. So we're relaxed and waiting ... next step the ombudsman because there's no way they can get away with this.
 [Resolved in the customers favour after what appears to be almost twelve months of negotiation]

* May 2010

* September 2010

* May 2011

In May 2011 a large drilling fluid spill occurred at AGL’s CSG well head at Camden North in NSW during routine maintenance. According to STOP CSG!, AGL failed to report the incident for two days until the leakage was shown on TV

* September 2012

* 2012

AGL sent me a letter advising me that I had entered into a default contract with them because the electricity at that address was still being used despite the cancellation of the A/C. This puzzled me as I had not cancelled the contract with AGL. As requested I phoned the number listed in their letter. At the outset of the conversation with AGL I was required to identify myself by giving my name and DOB. When I asked who had cancelled my A/C, my request was denied on the grounds of privacy regulations. My response to this was that my privacy had been violated when a third party had been allowed to cancel my account with AGL. When my letter of complaint to the GM retail was not answered, a week later I sent an e-mail citing the issues raised .This proved more effective because Customer Relations then contacted me. Their case is that the new tenant next door initially gave the street number of my holiday house, later phoning to correct his error. If the tenant had made this correction before the letter about a default contract had been written, then the issue of a default contract is in my opinion a red herring. Instead AGL should have come clean with me. Alternatively if the tenant had not yet alerted AGL to this debacle, there was no need to send a letter concerning electricity consumption at the address initially given by the new tenant next door. In summary, despite their claim to the contrary, I cannot accept that AGL can cancel an A/C without checking with the person who responsible for the A/C. Even for a simple enquiry a customer is required to identify themselves. Secondly I am not confident that the default letter was written in good faith. If AGL already knew about the source of the confusion at the time of writing to me , they should have been frank and open. XXXX XXXX Address in question-XX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX

* March 2013

* May 2013

* July 2013

* December 2013

* December 2014

* January 2015

* April 2015

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