The ins and outs of estimated bills

12 April 2019

It’s safe to say that none of us love receiving bills, but few things are more frustrating than receiving one that’s based on an estimate. Read on to see what you can do to avoid an estimated bill and what to do if you happen to receive one.

Written by Kristy Leigh

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Why do estimated meter reads happen?

Estimated meter reads are essentially best guesses. They’re sent through to your retailer when the local distributor can't read your meter - usually this is because they’re unable to safely access your meter due to either unrestrained pets, locked gates or even long grass. In rare instances, it can be due to severe weather events like flooding or bushfires, faulty meter reading equipment or issues with the meter data - when it looks like you’re using a lot more, or significantly less, than usual for that time of year.

How can I avoid an estimated bill?

The best way to avoid an estimated read is to make sure there’s always easy and safe access to your meter. One of the most common reasons for estimated reads are our furry family members. Sadly not everyone’s a fan of the four pawed and sometimes even the most friendly dogs don’t take too kindly to having strangers in their yard. On top of the meter readers safety, there’s also the concern for your pets welfare - we’d hate for them to make like Houdini and escape! To make sure your meter read goes off without a hitch, ensure your pet can’t access the meter. A few options are keeping them in a separate fenced off section, asking a friend to mind them or keeping them indoors for the day.

Providing clear access to your meter will also help reduce the chances of you getting an estimated bill. Make sure your grass is trimmed, there are no objects that could be a tripping hazard and there aren’t any vehicles blocking the way. If your meter’s located in a particularly odd nook or cranny, please let us know, as we can provide access details to the local distributor who reads your meter.

We also know how important it is to feel safe and secure in your home, so if you’ve got a gate that needs to be locked, there are distributor approved locks you can purchase. These allow the meter readers to get the job done, whilst maintaining your peace of mind. Most distributors list their preferred locksmiths on their website, so if you pop in your details we’ll let you know who's the distributor in your area. A little bamboozled? No problem! Send us a message on Facebook and we'd be happy to point you in the direction of an approved locksmith.

I’ve received an estimated bill, how do I know if it’s close to what I’ve used?

The easiest way to see whether the estimated reading’s in line with your usage is to compare it with actual read on your meter. If the reading on your meter is higher than the estimate on your bill, this would indicate it’s in line - if the reading on your meter is less, your usage has likely been overestimated. Not sure how to read your meter? We’ve got you covered.

My bill’s been overestimated, what now?

Sometimes the readings we receive from the distributor may be different to what you’ve actually used - there’s a few ways to get this sorted out. You can choose to wait it out until you receive your next bill and if it’s an actual meter read, it will balance out the estimated read. Your other option is to submit a self-read and have your bill updated. We’ll update it overnight on our end - if you’ve got email billing you’ll receive the new bill within 24 hours. Get your bills via snail mail? It can take up to 5 business days to reach you.

There are some situations where you might not be able to submit a self meter read . For more info, check out the table below.

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Kristy Leigh

About the author

Kristy works in the Origin Social Media team and is currently studying a diploma of photography on the side. Outside of work and study, she loves going on weekend adventures, creating short travel vlogs and soaking up the sunshine (when it makes an appearance in Melbourne).