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Utility Companies with No Contract - Should I Pay the Bill?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Dane, 18 May 2014.

  1. Dane

    Dane Member

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    I received a bill from one of those utility companies for supply of hot water. I have no agreement with this company and did not know of their existence until I got the bill. There is no contract between me and the utility company that says I agree to their services.
    -Firstly I can only assume they got mine and my flatmates names, and our move in date from the real estate, which is a breach of the privacy act, isn't it?
    -Secondly my lease agreement with the real estate states we are not to pay water. The utility company tried to convince me the bill is to pay for the gas that heats the water, however the bill is charged at a per litre of water rate, the amount of hot water passing the meter to our unit. The hot water unit is not even on our property we are renting. To me, the bill is for water, heated or not heated we do not pay for water which is in my agreement with real estate.

    I have since moved out of this place a month ago, am I responsible for this bill under Australian Consumer Law, even if there is no agreement or contract between me and the utility company? And secondly, what do I do about the real estate giving my personal details away?
     
  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dane,
    Have you raised this issue with your real estate agent? If yes, what have they said?
     
  3. Dane

    Dane Member

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    Hi John

    They will not accept responsibility for the bill and deny giving away my personal details.
    we certainly did not give this utility company our details and somehow they knew not only our names but our move in date too.

    I have told real estate I will be going to RTA for a dispute and they just said go right ahead. I am not sure if RTA is the correct way to go or who else should I go to?
     
    Jennifer J likes this.
  4. CathL

    CathL Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dane,
    Which State are you located in?
    Also, do you have a copy of your lease and can refer to the exact clause where it says you are not to pay water bills? It might be worth writing a letter (and email) to the real estate agent with a photocopy of the clause in your lease agreement and a copy of the water bill, giving them something like 7 or 14 business days in which to pay the bill in accordance with the lease agreement or you will escalate the situation per the dispute resolution procedure in the lease. (And also following them up by phone.) What does your lease say about dispute resolution? Depending on which State you're in, there are different organisations that would deal with your dispute/complaint. (For example, RTA Qld)
     
  5. Dane

    Dane Member

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    Hi Cath
    I am located in Queensland.
    I do have a copy of the lease which says we do not pay for water. However it does say we pay for electricity and gas. Please note there are no gas appliances in the unit we were renting. and the hot water towers were not located within the unit we were renting. the hot water tower was on common grounds within the appartment complex and provided hot water to each of the units through meters (because of this they can not charge for gas as every unit does not have their own hot water tower, so they charge a per litre of water usage). there were 3 hot water towers providing heated water to 8 units.
    Like I mentioned earlier to John, the utility company is trying to convince me the bill is for the gas that heats the water, but charged at a per litre of water?? and the price is twice as much as what i paid for gas at a previous house (which had more gas appliances and more tennants) this is why i refuse to pay such an unreasonable price.
     
  6. CathL

    CathL Well-Known Member

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    Hi Dane
    I recently spoke to my different providers about getting a better deal and it was also explained to me about the difference between gas (say for powering your oven) and gas hot water - they're two different things. I struggle to get my head around it too - and the fact that the price for nearly everything keeps increasing.

    So you may have an argument that because that bill is related to hot water, you shouldn't have to pay it. And in that case, I'd refer to my last post in terms of next steps and RTA Qld.

    Let us know how you go.
     

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