Utility Bill Surprisingly High? Check Whether It's 'Estimated'

Paul wants to know how his gas company can get away with estimated meter readings instead of actual numbers, especially since they lead to much higher bills. “This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of,” he writes, “And we are hoping that The Consumerist will be able to help us out.” It’s pretty common practice, actually, and the solution is to call the company and request a real reading as soon as possible.

Pretty much every gas and electricity company relies on estimates. It’s labor intensive to manually read every meter in a city, especially when meters aren’t easy to access because they’re behind a gate or locked away in a basement. To cut down on estimated bills, make sure your meters are easily accessible, or see if you can make an appointment for the reading so that you can be there to let the employee in.

If you live in an apartment, you should check with the complex’s management to make sure that there’s not a problem reaching the meters.

And finally, check your bill each month to make sure the reading is Actual and not Estimated—there should be a code or notice somewhere on the bill that tells you this, and if you can’t find it you should call the billing department and ask for help locating it.

(Photo: The Jamoker)