Many Nigerians have been grappling with the issue of estimated billing, through which many have been exploited.
This has been the issue that has led to crazy billing, which solution has not been provided. It could be recalled that the former Minister of Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, had said that prepaid meter was the way forward to addressing the issue. Still, there has not been a commitment on the part of the stakeholders towards distributing the prepaid meter.
Meanwhile, the ones that have been suffering most from estimated billing in which the service providers have been doing are those even without a meter. They were connected directly, and accounts were created for them, hoping that their meter will be ready at a future date.
But with the introduction of the prepaid meter, which is almost a decade ago, the service providers have continued to exploit their customers, and the crazy bill issues continued. This has left them with no other option because they don’t know what is consumed. In this way, they can’t protest the bill but only plead with people that have been exploiting them.
The ones who took up the matter had insisted on being metered as they are tired of being given such a killing bill. Some had even gone up to the extent of disconnecting their light, write their service providers that are not even providing the constant power supply, and charging haphazard amounts.
With the aid of technology that brings about the internet, there has been some improvement in billing. That doesn’t mean that estimated billing, which is exploiting on most occasions, has stopped. People have been able to know the proper channel of communication.
Even some communities that the disconnection team of the service providers can not get to due to several protests from those areas. The users insisted that they don’t want to see any disconnection team, demanding for prepaid meter in the process.
From a personal experience, there was an area in which the Community Development Association (CDA) had written their service providers, telling them the conditions in which they can operate within the law, not to take laws into their hands.
There was an ugly incident in Nigeria, which went viral on social media where a member of the disconnection team of a service provider had to stay on the life wire to protect his life. The mob was ready to give him the beating of his life because they have been billing them for the power they didn’t use. They succeeded in climbing the pole, brought down the official, and assaulted him.
To avoid a repeat of such a situation, the service providers have created several channels of engagement. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have not been welcoming people to their office. They have therefore made a mechanism of communication through e-mail. This means you can dispute the bill issued to you, as they have even gone ahead to be texting users their billing information instead of distributing the paper bill, which has now outdated.
Reading Your postpaid meter
Having given a background of issues that has led to the call for prepaid meters that will allow the users to be charged the exact amount they are using, it is important to know how your postpaid meter works.
In essence, if you fall among those using a working or readable meter, this article will help give out the information you need to know how to begin your dispute resolution. The power service providers will even defend their billing that you are using a readable meter, making it impossible for them to give you an estimated amount.
As a user of a postpaid meter, you need to look at two things before you begin to contest your bill. They include:
- The current reading
- The last reading
- The last time an official came to read the meter.
Once you have answers to the three listed points, you can proceed with the dispute resolution. The most important thing is that they must send an official who will come over to read your meter. If such an individual fails to show up in a month, that is where exploitation begins.
Below is how Ikeja Electric sends its billing information to their user.
Client Name/ Meter number
Your Bill for APR 2021: Tariff: C-Non MD
Read Code: E
Previous Balance: N169,324.54
Amt Due: N195,119.35
Due Date: 18 May 2021.
For enquires call 017000250
The information stated above states the rate of your tariff and the number of units you have consumed within the month. The current charge is derived from the rate multiplied by units plus VAT/ (Tariff X Units X 7.5 VAT)
In this calculation, the tariff per unit is N39.95. So, multiplying N39.95 by 1,064 units gives N42,506.8. The 7.5 percent VAT of the amount is N2975.476. Adding N42,506.8 plus N2975.476 equals N45,482.276.
With the issue of billing address, let’s look at the other information on the text.
LAR: The last reading before the new bill.
PAR: The last reading that produced the current bill.
Other information is clear.
With the example of the picture provided for you in this article, you can see if the information sent to you tally or is below it. From what has been explained so far, you can easily do your reading and send it to their office from the current reading of your meter before they provide their bill.
In this way, they will know that you monitor what you use, and the necessary correction will be done.