Pensioners’ Metro bill skyrockets to R300 000

Dorothy and Graham Hardie with their exorbitant Metro bill.

PINETOWN pensioners, Dorothy and Graham Hardie, were distraught when they received their recent electricity bill of R356 648.86. Dorothy Hardie (80) said they have battled with exorbitant metro bills since June last year and it has added unnecessary stress into their lives. Last year the Highway Mail reported on a similar case where a single mother, Kalaivani Naicker, from Pinetown was told to pay a  R6 764.87 bill or have her power cut.

“My initial reaction to the bill was shock,” exclaimed Dorothy .

“We thought we could sort it out quickly by going to the Pinetown Civic Centre. They were equally puzzled and one of the managers advised us to visit the electricity department’s main office in Hill Street.”

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Dorothy and Graham Hardie were shocked by their exorbitant metro bill.

The couple’s bill for March was R1174.86 with an average usage of 908kWh, in April they received a bill for R1255.08 for an estimated consumption of 970kWh. The final correct bill they received was in May for R1214.97 for using 939kWh.

“Sometimes we just don’t receive a bill, which was the case for June,” said the 83-year-old Graham Hardie.

“I called the Metro Bill Revenue Department and was told by one of the officials that I was due to pay more than R100 000. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it.”

According to a copy of the bill for June, the couple received a backdated charge from 28 November 2015 to 14 March 2016 for R18 209.05. Also included in the bill was a charge for 14 March to 9 May 2016 of R117 948.04.

It noted that the limit had been exceeded and they needed to pay the balance of R176 278.93.

“We paid those bills and they definitely weren’t that amount of money. We are very meticulous with our bills and pay them as soon as we get them. It now plays on my mind every single day. We are not the type of people who like to owe anybody money,” he said.

The couple still pays between R1400 to R1500 per month despite the amount shown on their bills. They now face a total bill of R356 648.86.

“They know there’s a problem. All of our bills say there has been no meter reading. If this went to court, we would not be able to afford a lawyer. It’s got to come to an end. This charade has got to stop. If someone could come through and actually read the meter, they would see that the numbers were wrong,” said Graham Hardie.

Their latest Metro bill stated, “Should payment not be received, we advise that we intend to cut off or restrict your service after 14 days.”

Melanie Brauteseth, Ward 18 councillor, said, “With such a large bill, it is no doubt complex and has perhaps been ongoing for long time. I do, however, invite the residents to contact me via email at mels@saol.com and send all relevant documents so that I can address the issue with the head of revenue at the municipality.

“The number of pensioners who are suffering with the new billing system is concerning. Their accounts have more than doubled. “Another prevalent trend I have identified is that no meter readings have been done.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Lloyd Mackenzie
Journalist

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