Update: As several readers have pointed out, there’s a simpler explanation for the confusion: both the OP and I were misreading the meter. The first digit should be rounded “down” to 9, so the meter in the photo actually reads 997.4 MCF—which is more in line with the previous bill. Thanks to everyone who caught this and wrote in or commented! We hope this helps you out, Michael.

The original story:
Dominion Hope, a gas company in West Virginia, sent Michael a huge gas bill this month. On it, they indicated that the latest reading was a real reading, not an estimate. Michael checked his meter himself and saw that the “actual” reading they billed for was in fact off by about 13 thousand cubic feet (MCF) let’s just say “a lot.”

He’s been asking around and has found three other people who have also been overcharged for “actual” readings. We called Dominion and spoke with a CSR, and they verified that an actual employee came out to the address and read the meter. If he did, then that’s one incompetent meter reader.

We’ll go ahead and post the first part of Michael’s story, and the original photo, so that future readers can see why there was a misunderstanding.

We get our heating gas from Dominion Hope, and after receiving a \$200 bill for one month’s gas I got suspicious, mainly because we keep the heat at about 50 degrees during the winter. (My fiancée and I are just out of college and used to roughing it so we can save money; our roommate previously studied in Alaska and ‘has put up with worse.’) I went out to check the meter and rapidly became confused. The bill said that a human had read the meter at 992.4 million cubic feet on December 26, 2008, yet looking at the meter, I read it on Feb 7, 2009 as 979 MCF, or a difference of about 20 million cubic feet [really, about 13 MCF. -Ed.]. Given that 10 MCF costs about \$150 in our area, this comes to a pretty substantial sum!

Remember to always compare the reading on your bill with the actual reading on your meter. It’s easy to do—here are some instructions if it’s your first time.

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