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Fair Go: Big Bill

Published: 5:38PM Wednesday April 01, 2009

Reporter: Hannah Wallis

Ash Wells runs a watch sales and repair shop, Capital Watch Services, in central Wellington - his Genesis electricity bills are usually around $100-200 a month. In January though Genesis phoned to say that, by mistake they'd sent him a bill for a little bit more than that - $298,998 dollars and 38 cents. Don't worry they said, it's a computer glitch, and it won't happen again. Ash got a replacement, normal, January bill, and then the February bill arrived - for $300, 043.02.

This time there'd been no warning - but again, a proper bill arrived, and again Genesis said this wouldn't happen again - they did, says Ash, offer to come and read his meter free of charge. Come March, though - the next bill was for - $301,094.74. Ash isn't finding this funny anymore - he says it's incompetence, and nothing's being done about it. He says the Genesis bills warned that if you don't pay by a certain time - the money will be taken out of your bank account - he imagined all sorts of chaos if that happened. Ash desperately wanted this sorted in time for April's bill.

And we hope it has been. Genesis said there were two problems. Ash's meter was faulty, giving an enormous reading, which was then thought to be a meter-reading mistake, rather than a fault with the actual meter.

Second, Ash had mistakenly been labelled as a "major" consumer instead of a small one - so when his reading was for say, $300,000 plus, Genesis didn't twig that it was a ridiculous amount for a small shop. They've now visited Ash's shop to sort out the faulty meter, and he's now listed as a small business. Genesis have apologised and promised this will never happen again - Ash is now waiting to see if his April bill is back to normal.

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