22 May, 2010

Reply by TNB on the Billing System Problem

Article from the STAR (21 May 2010)

MANY people in the northern region are upset over having to pay ‘unusually high electricity bills’ lately since Tenaga Nasional Bhd started billing them on alternate months instead of monthly.

Alor Setar-based lawyer Tan Keng Liang said the estimated readings started in March and since then, the bills were higher than usual.

“The reading of the meter on an alternate month basis has caused the electricity bill to rise substantially by 30% due to higher tariffs applied to accumulated units,” he said.

Tan claimed such as practice would defeat the lower tariff rate approved by the government to assist Malaysians.

“It is time that TNB explained this to the people,” said Tan who is also Kedah Gerakan Youth chief.

Tan said he had written to TNB seeking an explanation and their reply was that the estimated reading practice was used because of manpower shortage.

When contacted, TNB chief executive officer Datuk Seri Che Khalid Mohd Noh confirmed that they had received such complaints but explained that the problem was confined to only certain areas and “not even state-wide.”

“We are investigating the matter,” he said, adding there were many cases of misunderstanding, which could be due to the way the bills were presented.

“We will improve the presentation to make it clearer to consumers. Under no circumstances is TNB trying to charge our customers more,” he said in an SMS reply to a query from The Star.

Khalid said consumers were billed on a monthly basis and an estimated consumption method was used to guide the practice of reading the meter on an alternate month.

“The practice of estimated meter reading has been done for a long time. The estimated reading is based on a six-month average consumption, which is the usual usage,” he said.

In PERAK, the issue was highlighted early this month when TNB admitted that its billing system was flawed and it would use a new system for calculation.

Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang said TNB had agreed to improve its billing system and gave assurance that there would be no more hiccups.

In PENANG, Consumers’ Association of Penang president S.M. Idris said Penangites had complained to CAP about high electricity bills late last year.

“We asked TNB to explain and they informed us that the estimated reading practice was the cause for the higher amount billed to the consumers.

“They assured the consumers that their billing for the following month would be re-adjusted to reflect a lower amount,” he said.