Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Toronto Hydro and an Ongoing Dispute

This is a horror story posted at this personal blog: http://mephie1.blogspot.com/2010/10/toronto-hydro-and-ongoing-dispute.html

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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.

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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.

50 comments:

  1. Dear Torontonian;
    Waaaaay up here in the other end of the province, we still feel the same way. Yet we get the joy of dealing with Hydro One directly. Believe me, we get the same run around. But this time we're getting noisy about it. A friend of mine especially. Here's a link to today's local newspaper article about the fight on our end of the province: http://thedrydenobserver.ca/2010/11/protesting-high-hydro/
    So, from a few thousand kilometers away, I feel you pain, as does the bottom of my purse as I keep digging to find more money as my Hydro keeps increasing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We feel your pain and frustration here to. It has been over a year for me trying to get answers and all I get is the same run around. And disconnection notices as my hydro has gone up so high. My building using no hydro had a bill of almost $100.00 last month and no one can explain it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have recently became an energy rep for just energy and have learnt all that you speak of in regards to the tax on tax and all the other bs charges all of these things and so many more are going on because they have the average family working so hard simply so they can enjoy the very rare luxury and in turn leaves us no time to know whats really going on in the world i am so happy to see more and more people waking up to these rediculous antics being used by these once government ran services that has been sold out for any number of reasons all of which makes no sense only that we are being sold out and losing all of our resources in the process we need to wake up canada because this thing of put up and shut up is not working and we are selling out our childrens future for nothing more than a can't be bothered mentality thats destroying any hope of a future where you as a consumer get treated with the considerationand respect you deserve instead of being treated like we the consumer are viewed as some kind of consumer terrorist that does not deserve an explanation for anything they do. this put up and shut up treatment we are seeeing is a product of our putting up and shutting up ways and if we continue to do nothing it will only get worse
    go to www.thesmarterchoice.mymomentis.biz and show them differently

    ReplyDelete
  4. We live in St Thomas Ontario and deal with Hydro One..they have installed the smart meter a year ago but just sent us a letter to say that it would be activated in January. I am holding my breath. It is sad that you get heart pain just opening up your bills. The stress the government has put on us is MORE than the average taxpayer can deal with. THEY JUST DON'T GET IT...people are LUCKY if they have a job. Kids are hungry, money is tight. But the government's answer to everything is MORE TAXES and MUCH LESS SERVICE.This will NOT Solve the problems. NO what they NEED is someone in the office that HAS LEARNED TO BALANCE A CHEQUE BOOK...SOMEONE WHO HAS LIVED YEAR AFTER YEAR SUPPORTING A FAMILY ON A $29,000 a year job. All they are concerned with is padding their pensions...and the hell with the taxpayers. I would LOVE to sign your Class Action Suit..but how far outside of Toronto do you accept signatures.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hear you I just resently converted my duplex into our family home and am paying 2 electric bills until I can get the electrical redone but i've come to the conclusion that the only way to go would be to convert to solar power we do it in the bush at our camp so why not power our home like that?! I would rather spend my money on solar panels and batteries than pay the goverment and hydro one ANY more money!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My Husband and I are in the same boat. Toronto Hydro sent us a bill completely out of the blue with our energy usage quadrupled: from 10 kwH/Day to 40!! They say it was our air conditioning (which is interesting, since we didn't have any) and refuse to discuss the matter further on the phone, will not reply to my letters, and have threatened to send a collection agency after us. We've had a smart meter all along, nothing in our apartment changed, we just have to trust that because their computer says we used it, we must have used it. Because we all know that computers (and computer users) never make mistakes.

    If you go ahead with a lawsuit, or if you find any government agencies who will listen, please pass on the word!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have the same issue my bill is about $200 more and the call centre keeps telling me the meter is fine and there seems to be nothing you can do and no escalation process, they need to introduce a arbitration process

    ReplyDelete
  8. Total sympathy here. Toronto Hydro customer... The hydro bill for my home (where 4 people live) is 20% the hydro bill for my business, despite the fact that my business has been closed for the holidays with just myself entering and using the lights at most once per week (heating is off). When I call Toronto Hydro they insist that the meter is correct. $500 a month? Are you kidding me?

    ReplyDelete
  9. our bill is 450 dollars what should we do? Change to someone else?? they are ripping us off day light robery!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have had a 2 year battle with Tor.Hydro: they tacked 1000 kWh onto my June 2010 bill, after 6 months of estimated billing--claiming they couldn't get access to the installed but not activated smart meter: I am disabled and home all the time: nobody ever knocked on the door during those 6 months, to ask to read the meter.The smart meter was activated April 2010---they then just invented an "average" daily consumption,and tacked it onto to the June 2010 bill.I've been getting the run around for 2 years from them : even their own printouts of the house's consumption show their "average" daily consumption figure is way out. I've had rudeness and obfuscation ---time to bring these pit bulls to heel ! ---fed up

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just got a bill of 230 from Toronto Hydro for my previous apartment that I and my wife lived in after more then four and a half month later. The reading is from end of July to end of December 2011 and I have paid of another bill for the new place where we live and of course I was glad that I have settled all the accounts to the previous apartment like months ago. Now the bill of 230 for the previous apartment, where is this coming from?......specially after 4 and a half month......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just been notified of the same issue. Apparently in Dec. 2011 I was undercharged, and they didn't become aware of this until September 2012 - 4 months AFTER I closed my account with them. So they sent a bill to the house I no longer lived in (which they knew, because I closed my account and gave them a forwarding address) and now, since I never responded, I have the collection agency contacting me.

      Don't know how to go about fixing it!

      Delete
  12. serena April 24,2012April 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this for all to see! Googled "Billing Disputes with Hydro One and yours was the only site that actually welcomes the truth with there billing. My husband and myself are currently on month 8 of the wonderful calls to hydro one billing dept. All the sudden back on our Sept/Oct. bill we have a charge of $1200 from our reg. max bill of $400. We had changed our billing type from seasonal to residential which according to all our neighbours would bring our bill down by at least 10% but instead of a credit we were advised off a $1200 charge to be paid imediately! At that point we calld they said we hadnt been billed for 3 months at that time, that was funny we had bills for the past 3months which we had paid. Still after countless calls we had no answers so we gave up and made arrangements with hydro one for payments. That was fine but all bills after that showed credit balances of anywhere from $100-$500 dollars, still couldnt follow. Thus once agqain throwing us in a abyss of calls to hydro one and more poop slinged at us in terms of excuses. Its now been 8 months of calling and having sunshine and lies blown up my dariere! We were told by 2 reps (who we took name,time and employee number) that we are current and caught up with a credit. Well today we get a bill for $500 and saying were still on payment arrangements, we call hydro one give our details of all calls and answers given by there company and get so sorry pay the bill! Ask if they can pull up there phone records since we have been calling monthly and going by what we were advised by there reps, told they dont have to do so! I really didnt know until now that the word hydro meant - screw people over, tax them to death, and leave them out to dry when they make an error!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. i received a bill for 1274. Bucks friday. I called today to straighten it out only to be told its correct. They had not been able to get access to my meter due to living above a closed store. So they based my bills on previius tenant..so they got in finally, have now installed a smart meter..but are back billing me 200 some days for money owed..not my mistake, i paid the bills i received..is this even legal? Im now on a payment plan or it would go to collections..how do i fight this one?

    ReplyDelete
  14. i moved to a condo like apt above a resturant and i received a bill today for $255 and with a delivery charge of $103 which hydro cant explain how they came up with that and tell me look at the back of the bill it will tell you what it is for. i moved in June 2012 and received the bill in my landlords name and have called to change it and set up an account but they have not changed it to my name yet and my landlord calls and ask them to change it and they havent dont that yet. they keep telling me its a business acct and i have to pay $800 for the previous business owner that had the meter # and my landlord says its not a business acct and wont pay $800. they keep arguing and stating that they are right and we are wrong. i am out of the house from 8 am to 6 pm, so i am not using my hydro besides the fridge, stove, and microwave plugged in. i come change and leave again and come back at 10:30 pm so i am barely in the house and not using hydro that much to be charged $126.13 with a delivery charge of $103.32 adding up to $255.04 with the extra charges of regulatory ($10.55), debt retirement charge ($10.77) and hst taxes ($32.60). is this normal for a single person who is barely home to use the hydro?

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  46. Should start charging the Hydro Companies the use of all of our natural resources to create it and charge it back to us.

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    Replies
    1. Hi I had the same probleb of high billing & I got the "run around" treatment as you. It was not possible for me to get any justification for the high cost of the Bills. A friend said to me that if the line Voltage is Lower due to bigger draw on the Grid , then it affects the "POWER FACTOR" in that it draws more amperage, due to that the Voltage is lower, and that results in a HIGHER Meter readings. but the Toronto Hydro are not the People to Listen to our complaints/ suggestions or demands,; they are there to facilitate the Toronto Hydro to run this business as cash generating & anything we try , the clerks refute or deny with all sorts of etoric FALSE Arguments and refutations. I had to pay them because they even had cut the service to my place, when the bills run so high, that I had refused to pay unless they lowered them. Not a chance to win with them. eND

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  47. tHERE IS A COMMENT REGARDING THE SAFETY OF THE GRID IN KINGSTON ROAD AREA, BETWEEN CATHEDRAL BLUFFS AND sCARBOROUGH CLUB ROAD.
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  48. I have been paying my hydro bills for 10 years without a single delay. One time I was late one month for a $285 bill, and hydro immediately slapped not just interest, but also a "collection fee" of 30$+T. I only realized this very late when I was doing delayed paperwork. Namely two and a half years after the fact. My bad. When I called Hydro, they said it was because the late payment forced them to deliver a notice to my house. They accepted that pulling out the big guns for a one-time one-month delay (not even one cycle) of an average bill of a good customer was over the top. Neither Bell nor Enbridge ever does anything like this. They looked into refunding me. Nice I thought. But wait they said, this is from over two years ago. The system wont let us cancel the charge. Well dont I said, just give me a credit. Nope, thats not possible. Unbelievable.

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Please feel free to leave a comment, especially if you wish to share your own horror story. If you wish to get involved in the class action suit please contact me directly at jrwakefield@mcswiz.com put Class Action Suit in the subject please.