Not-so-smart electricity meters anger Morningside residents

Theora Turner is angered by the inaccuracy of the newly installed smart meter outside her home in Morningside. Photo: Sarah Koning


Morningside resident, Theora Turner was astounded when her electricity bill from Eskom escalated by 900 per cent during the month of October, with no particular changes in her habits at home.

Turner, who resides in Strelitzia Street, said she was puzzled by the low bills she received during the winter months this year following the installation of a new smart meter outside her home.

She was advised that the smart meters would bring more accurate electricity readings, but discovered quite the opposite.

Turner said she received no account in May and had to call in to Eskom to find out what was owed. “We usually pay between R2 000 and R3 000 per month, but in June we received a credit of R37,64 – unheard of previously. I called in once again and was assured that the reading was correct.”

In July, August and September, the accounts were very low, accumulating to between R1 000 and R2 000 per month. Then in October, she received the fright of her life when the bill arrived for R29 243,65.

Her husband, Peter, under whose name the account is always billed, went to Eskom in Rivonia to query the issue and was faced with a wait of two and a half hours before being told he could only receive a 15 per cent discount on the bill.

“We still had to pay in R24 857,10 and were threatened with disconnection if the amount was not paid immediately,” added Theora.

A resident in the same street, Byron Thomas said he had the same issue with his meter reading for October.

“I wasn’t billed properly for three months. I got lower bills for winter and they then charged a ridiculous amount in October. I haven’t done anything about it but there clearly was an error. I don’t trust them. I will soon be converting to prepaid to avoid this happening again.”

Thomas revealed bills to the Sandton Chronicle showing that he paid four times the usual amount in October. He said that he paid the bill out of fear that he would be cut off if he failed to fit the bill.

Communication and stakeholder management officer at Eskom, Lebogang Molokomme said, “A smart meter is an advanced digital electricity meter that records when and how much electricity is consumed. The smart meter allows you to view near-real-time electricity usage over time and helps you manage your consumption. Possible human errors are eliminated as readings are accessible electronically.”

In relation to the instance of the R29 857,10 bill charged to Turner, Molokomme said the information cannot be revealed to a third party as the customer’s information is confidential. She would not say whether Eskom had received other complaints regarding this issue.

Have you experienced similar problems with the new smart meters? Share your stories on the Sandton Chronicle Facebook page.

Sarah Koning

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