Recommendation 6: “For a common hold, make sure that the managing agent is aware of the metering difficulties encountered by the distributor”
1. Customer observation
Upon receipt of a big bill, the managing agent of an apartment block contacted the supplier to challenge it. A complaint was made to the distributor, which indicated that it was unable to access the meter between September 2011 and January 2013. This was because the meter cabinet had been padlocked. The distributor was therefore only able to make estimates of consumption. The disputed bill therefore corresponded to regularisation of consumption after removal of the padlock.
2. Mediation solution
After analysis of the file, the managing agent acting in that capacity since 2007, indicated that the padlock was already in place at the time and that its installation was not its fault. It was therefore surprised that readings had often been estimated. The managing agent also mentioned having taken the initiative to have the padlock removed in 2014. After verification, the mediation team assigned responsibility for the padlocked cupboard containing the meter to the managing agent. However, under Article 8.2 of the Distributor’s Standard Delivery Conditions, the customer must allow access to the meter at least once a year.
Nevertheless, when the technician is unable to gain access to the meter, he leaves a card for the customer indicating the day and the time slot at which he will return to take the reading. If he can still not access the meter, a customer meter reading card is left so that they can transmit their own reading. However, the managing agent, as manager of the building, said it had never received these cards or letters indicating the inaccessibility of the meter. It should be noted that the address of the managing agent is not the same as the address of consumption, which is that of the apartment block. The sending of these cards and letters to the address of the managing agent could not be proved. Nevertheless, it was verified that the supplier had provided the correct contact address to the distributor so that it could contact the managing agent if necessary. In fact, the problem had already been noted by the supplier in other requests. Therefore, although this difficulty was not observed in this case, this prompted the supplier to be proactive on this issue and to ensure that the address given to the distributor was the contact address and not that of the place of consumption, in the event of a difference.
3. Generic observation
The managing agent of an apartment block contacted the supplier to contest a bill that was too high. The distributor said it had not been able to access the meter for 15 months. This was because the meter cabinet had been padlocked. So the distributor could only base its billing on estimated usage.
4. Recommendation / generic solution
For a common hold, it must be ensured that the managing agent is aware of the difficulties in reading the meter by the distributor. For a common hold, the address for billing usage is often different from the managing agent’s address. The supplier must therefore ensure that the distributor has the correct contact address so that it can inform the managing agent of its actions, particularly in the event of meter inaccessibility.