Metering Not Billing

It seems amazing to me, but I hardly need to do research to find out how poor businesses are at issuing bills. I just need to open my own personal mail to find that out. Some several years after moving into my newly-constructed house, my duel-fuel gas and electricity supplier has finally issued me their first bill. Which is fine by me, as I always had every intention of paying, just no intention of wasting my time chasing them. In fact, until I received the bill, I had no idea who my gas and electricity service provider was. The one time I had a temporary problem with the electricity supply I spent two hours on the telephone trying to find out who to contact, with no success at all. In the end, a man from the construction business responsible for building the estate I live on came round knocking on people’s doors to explain the problem. He said it was all the fault of EDF. There did not seem much point trying to complain as I am not entitled to vote in the upcoming French elections and hence probably my opinion or problems are of no interest to Electricite De France (yet another business in the AOL habit of using a TLA as a name because they are too cheap to hide their nationalistic ancestry when selling abroad). It says a lot about how these businesses work that a diligent and caring person walking door to door stills end up being the quickest and most effective form of communication when something goes wrong.

So why am I blogging about this? Because I struggle to understand how my utility service provider failed to bill me for so long. As long as I have been living in the house, people with official badges have come around on a regular basis to read the gas and electricity meters. It looks like all the meter readings are stated on my first bill. So why did it take them so long just to reconcile the meter readings to the bills? Checking that a bill is issued for each meter reading taken should be a really straightforward control. After all, paying people to read meters is a real and significant cost and there is plenty of attention paid to the problem of balancing the cost of taking meter readings with the issues involved in estimating the amount supplied. I will not mention the name of my supplier. However, if I was a shareholder I would be wondering how much extra cash would be generated for dividends by simply identifying the unbilled meter readings each quarter.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.