Electricity theft
December 23, 2008 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Electricity theft. This is particular to NSW Australian law and energy theft. I can't imagine that anyone has experienced it, but on the off-chance and input from other people that have been victims, can you give me some advice?

My power bills had seemed very high since moving into my new rental but when I had questioned my real estate agent, excuses were made about rising power prices. Last night there was a kerfuffle from the neighbours. Their parakeets which they kept in the backyard had been elecrocuted. We experienced a short in our fuse box at the same time. We called in energyAustralia and they fixed up the fuse board and noted some anomalies. On their advice, I recontacted my real estate agent and this morning I was advised by the real estates' electrician that there was a cable from one of my power points that was connected to another house (it ran past the parakeet's cage). He disconnected it, but what chance do I have of getting any money back from the electricity thief?
posted by tellurian to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Sounds like you should talk to a lawyer.
posted by reptile at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2008

Call the utility. They will have consumption totals going back for a few years and may be able to see the dramatic rise.
posted by Pants! at 10:25 AM on December 23, 2008

Do both of the above, and also call your real estate agent. In a rental, this is something that they should know about. Hopefully either you or them have a record of your previous questioning of the electricity prices. They obviously may not be very forthcoming with this if it exists (as it indicates some kind of negligence on their part).

A general cautionary tale though, check your bill carefully! I recently got a markedly high gas bill from *ahem* EnergyAustralia for which I discovered the calculation for the bill was completely (and obviously!) wrong, and I was charged about $200 more than I should have been. Admittedly when I enquired they were quite helpful, and then apologetic about it, but that's my lesson learned....!
posted by ryanbryan at 1:07 PM on December 23, 2008

My experience is with a US utility not an Australian one.

When I worked for the energy company this wasn't common, but it certainly happened. Call the utility and they'll take it from there.
posted by 26.2 at 7:57 PM on December 24, 2008

Response by poster: energyAustralia sent out an inspector but he said that they are only responsible up to the fuse box. Anything after that is the tenant/owners responsibility. I discovered this weekend that they are plumbed into our water supply too.
posted by tellurian at 5:23 PM on January 27, 2009

Response by poster: After protracted negotiation (they conceded the theft but disputed the amount) and a threat of exposing their fraud to the rental tribunal we have come to an agreement - they will pay back $960 (two weeks rent) plus all water rates that we have paid. I had calculated an overpayment of $1,300 but was willing to forego the $340 to avoid the hassle of taking time off work to go to tribunal, preparing paperwork, etc.
I do fell a little guilty about not following this through with the tribunal because it means that previous tenants that had been ripped off won't get any refunds, but I also think that they should have taken some action themselves. What were they doing paying obviously outrageous bills for so long?
posted by tellurian at 4:21 PM on June 14, 2009

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