I started out to post a series of comments on the finance industry and straightaway found I had to take time out to deal with an issue relating to a commercial organisation. This post describes an experience I had with power supplier AGL in 2007-2008 which I have been unable to discuss until now because it has been in the hands of the EWOV (Electricity and Water Ombudsman of Victoria). The EWOV was unable to come to any conclusion and in essence washed its hands of the matter after negotiating a payment regime for the account. I am therefore free to continue my own investigations.
I attach an edited copy of the submission which I made to the EWOV and would be interested in finding out whether any other AGL customers had a similar experience during the period covered by the submission. If I find that there was a reasonable number of people had the same experience as we did, I will go back to the EWOV and re-open the case. Otherwise, I will assume that the whole matter was simply an aberration without a sensible explanation and pay the account in full as a matter of good faith.
The key point in my investigation is that the winter/spring period (June-Nov) in 2007 was a very warm one, while the corresponding period in 2008 was the coldest in more than a decade. There is no logical reason why an account for the 2007 period should be equal to or greater than that for 2008 and it is this anomaly which sets my complaint apart from the routine. (As it happens, there was a spike in complaints to the EWOV at the time).
I would be pleased to hear from any AGL customer whose experience is similar to my own. If the number is more than just a few, I am thinking that you could all make properly documented submissions to the EWOV, remarking that JimTheGeordie asked you to do so. This would link the cases together.
Since I made my original submission, I began to wonder whether any tampering with the meters had been done at the instigation of the former CEO. We know that AGL had cash flow problems around the same time (see the wikinvest link below, for instance) and it could be that this exercise was undertaken so that the CEO could report that business was improving. Please note that I am making no accusation here. I am merely commenting that in the absence of another rational explanation, such a conclusion would fit the circumstances and deserves investigation.