Queenstown man’s $320K power bill shocker

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A Lake Hayes Estate man got a shock to the system after receiving a $320,000 gas energy bill for his home. 

Paul Wilson feared he’d be stung with hefty bank fees if an automatic payment was processed for his whopping $320,167 Contact Energy Rockgas bill for April. 

The amount included $41,761 worth of GST. 

“It was one hell of a shock. But I knew straight away that it wasn’t right,” Wilson says. 

“I rang up Contact Energy saying I had a query with one of my bills. I gave the guy my customer number and he opened up the account and said, ‘Have you paid it yet?’ I said, ‘I wish I could have if I could afford it but obviously I haven’t’. 

“My major concern was that if they did try to take that money out, because it’s on an automated system, that I would incur penalty fees for obviously not having the correct amount of funds in my account. 

“But they’d rectified the error prior to it being deducted.” 

Wilson, who owns Queenstown’s Hell Pizza, says the customer service man on the phone told him he wasn’t the only one to receive a hefty bill. 

“He said there was a glitch in the system and mine wasn’t as big as some of the other bills sent out, so some people have got bigger ones than myself.” 

Wilson, who is waiting on a new meter reading for an accurate bill, says Contact Energy staff were helpful in resolving the issue. 

“They were very apologetic.” 

Contact Energy spokesman Jeremy Seed says the invoice was one of three which showed an incorrect billing amount due to information from a meter reading being entered incorrectly onto the invoice. 

“We are puzzled by the comments the customer received from the call centre operator he spoke to, as the incidence of incorrect billing due to incorrect figures being entered from a meter reading is not at all common.” 

“Contact Energy’s retail billing department is reviewing the invoice creation process to determine what other controls need to be added so that this sort of error does not make it through the billing system again,” Seed says.