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So I don't pay too much attention to my electric bill. It comes, i pay it. It fluctuates alot, from $500 in winter to $200 in spring. Last month, my electric bill was $2.35. I noticed the meter reading was the exact same as the month before. When I went outside to look at the meter, it wasn't functional. But I was still getting electricity, so I never called to report a problem.

I think it was probably off a total of 7 weeks, and last week they installed a new meter.

Think they try to bill me extra? Do they have any other way of tracking my electric use other than the meter?

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Last time I checked aluminum smelters were not known for having the munchies...

dhl (Apr. 04, 2011 @ 6:52a) |

you already edited your post once, you might have to edit it again. svr411 said he was concerned about a "towering infe... (more)

AcidSpectrum (Apr. 04, 2011 @ 10:59a) |

lol... I call a mulligan. Getting a coherent thought together takes time and practice.

dhl (Apr. 04, 2011 @ 1:53p) |

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If the meter stopped they have no way of knowing your use. They may just let you get some free juice , or they may try to estimate your average use

There's really no way to predict what will happen but your strategy of just keeping quiet may work to your advantage. Wait and see what happens and report back with an update!!

I would start setting money aside in case they "true up" your account.

All depends on the power company policy. I'd imagine they'll try to reconstruct your electrical usage by extrapolating data from adjacent months or from looking at the same month in prior years. Either that or they'll ignore it.

If they do try to bill you there may be laws in your state that you can cite... trying to bill someone based on guesstimating likely wouldn't hold up in court.

New thread title... Break your electric meter for fun & profit.

I rented a place years ago where the gas meter stopped working. I started getting bills with their "minimum charge" of about $8. I'd go out and bang on the top of it occasionally to get the needles to move a bit (in an effort to show some usage). I figured that if I was ever confronted that I'd simply claim that I was shacking up elsewhere for those months. I eventually moved prior to it ever being an issue...

If the seal is not tampered with, I wouldn't worry about them accusing you of anything inappropriate. But I'd certainly follow the advice of others here and set some dough aside in the event that they try to bill you. I'd think that you'd have some negotiating power get a dollar figure that's somewhat in your favor though.

On a related note, a city outside of Boston has decided to back bill residents that were undercharged for water: http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/12002091171170/brockton...

Couldn't the electric company just subtract the cumulative KWH of usage in your neighborhood from the KWH ran through the nearest metered transformer? It's probably not worth their time.

You should probably set up an aluminum smelting operation in the garage until the meter gets fixed.

This happened to me once. Power company never back billed. Had a minimum bill for 2 or 3 months before they figured it out and replaced the meter.

My parents got stuck with a defective meter on a new house when I was a kid. For 6-8 months, they just billed estimates while my folks complained. Finally they installed a good meter in the spring, and grudgingly agreed to refund if the fall/winter usage was less than the previous year's estimates. We were extra frugal that winter, and got a sizable refund. I don't think they paid any interest on the one year loan.

They estimated the bill at the summer cottage last month. My fault for not clearing the snow from the driveway. Estimate was very high, so usage when they read it this week is going to be negative. Will be interesting to see how they deal with it.

taxmantoo said:   They estimated the bill at the summer cottage last month. My fault for not clearing the snow from the driveway. Estimate was very high, so usage when they read it this week is going to be negative. Will be interesting to see how they deal with it.They'll just correct last month's estimated reading to something between the last actual reading and this one, then recalculate the bills accordingly. Any subsequent credit balance from paying last month's inflated bill will carry forward until used up.

The back bill may have better standing if the meter actually worked & record the correct usage all along and the problem is with the billed amount. Suck for the residents that may be caught off guard; they may be able to plan their usage better had they know they have to pay more.

Charging residents interest for biller's billing errors is definitely a unethical, if not illegal.

I wonder what is the resolution? I can't find any follow-up story.

HotSalami said:   On a related note, a city outside of Boston has decided to back bill residents that were undercharged for water: http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/12002091171170/brockton...

This happened to my parents when I was a kid, but the meter worked occasionally so we would get billed for some power. I think it went on for years and never got back billed. Eventually the meter got replaced for some reason I can't remember.

I would consider incorporating and setting up your own power company called Treefarn P & E. Run extension cords to all the neighbors and just bill them at a slightly lower rate than the electric co.

I had a stuck water meter for 4 years and only got billed the quarterly minimums. Use to be $5 then $7 then $12/quarter before they sent me notices about letting them change the meter before threatening to shut off the water. I guess it's cool to pay for water.

Best to act dumb about it, pretend you hardly pay attention to your bill amounts. When they first confront you about it and they will probably ask you if anyone lives there, tell them a story about some life changing event like meeting a new girlfriend and staying with her all the time, new work traveling requirements, being out of town because of sick parents, etc . . .

svr411 said:   You should probably set up an aluminum smelting operation in the garage until the meter gets fixed.

agents do "profile" residences with unusually high electric usage for pot busts....so right now you're in the clear.

AcidSpectrum said:   agents do "profile" residences with unusually high electric usage for pot busts....so right now you're in the clear.

Uh, I don't know about you, but I'd be more worried about a towering inferno than the munchies police.

Generally the electric company is quick to investigate meters which show a sustained decrease in usage. Once when I was home from college, the electric company stopped by my parents house to "audit" the meter. The employee said we were randomly chosen, but when I mentioned it to my dad he told me that his power bill had dropped almost 50% when my sister and I moved out (he also stopped using the upstairs a/c). The employee took our meter out for about 10 minutes to his truck to do some tests and then brought it back. My guess is that he would have replaced the meter if he thought it was not working. My guess is that the electric company will only back-bill if there is evidence of tampering.

Our water meter stopped for about a week cause it was frozen up but we still got water. Never got charged any more for it.

No reason to "save" money for a non-working meter. My neighbor was charged the minimum for like 2 years before the power company came out and replaced it. If it doesn't show use, how can they charge you?

YMMV

If they bill you for that month based on estimate of your "normal/average" use, claim you were out of town that month --- zero reading was actually correct

Based on my experience, my guess is that they will figure out and just replace the meter ... and not charge you for the period the meter was broken.

What happened with me was that I was actually on a project that required me to be away for a month at a time for a few years... and the electric company thought my meter was broken. They replaced my meter 4 times thinking it wasn't working. They never asked me for any more money though.

OP, I suggest you keep paying your bill and keep the bills filed incase they try to play games with you down the road. Worst case, the law is in their favor and you pay for what you've used. There's no way you can be penalized beyond that... unless they somehow prove that you tampered with the meter.

Oh yea... and they WILL find out. Chances are that they already found out, and you're on a waiting list to get a new meter installed. Either way, as SiS said, please do report back.

TheXung said:   Best to act dumb about it, pretend you hardly pay attention to your bill amounts. When they first confront you about it and they will probably ask you if anyone lives there, tell them a story about some life changing event like meeting a new girlfriend and staying with her all the time, new work traveling requirements, being out of town because of sick parents, etc . . .What is wrong with just telling the truth? Just tell them that you noticed the meter wasn't working and you were waiting for them to fix it. If they want to estimate your charges for the time the meter wasn't working, just make sure they don't estimate high compared to adjacent months or the same months during previous years. If they don't want charge you for it, consider yourself lucky and move on.

I don't see the point in fabricating a big lie.

Put up some fake solar panels and demand a "thank you" from them for feeding their grid.

workindev said:   Just tell them that you noticed the meter wasn't working and you were waiting for them to fix it.

I wouldn't say this to an electric company, personally. This is just a good excuse for them to audit your meter...and then what if they discover some odd crack or something and try to accuse you of tampering with said meter? Playing dumb is the correct answer here, although I'd keep my excuse as unelaborate as possible. "I didn't notice." will probably suffice, especially if you automatically get your bill deducted from a bank account or card.

Have you bought an electric car yet?

I'm the kind of person that if I notice that my meter is broken, if it drags on I'm going to call the electric company to let them know. And I'm not going to lie and say I didn't notice something that I did notice.

And I have been on FW finance long enough to know that this kind of person gets red in these kinds of threads, so let 'em fly.

There's nothing wrong with that, and it's better than making up stories or lying.

My approach isn't to lie , but also isn't for me to do their job for them. They can find it and fix it on their own. I won't waste my time and energy (pun intended) unless it's to my financial benefit.

This happened to me last year with my gas meter.

I never told them and got 8 months of free gas with no back bill. They eventually fixed the meter and never said a word.

I probably saved north of $2000.

I'm on auto debit and rarely look hard at my electric bill. I just went to my banking site just a little hopeful that maybe this also happened to me No such luck.

cheezedawg said:   I'm the kind of person that if I notice that my meter is broken, if it drags on I'm going to call the electric company to let them know. And I'm not going to lie and say I didn't notice something that I did notice.

I think this is personally fine, but if the OP lets this "problem" go for 6+ months, I'd be hesitant to tell the electric company it was noticed, for above reasons. I was operating under the assumption that he plans on letting this go for now. If he plans on righting things now, however, absolutely tell the truth.

This same situation occured with electric meters in a city housing residences not too long ago. The bills were unusually low and the power company said they were going to recoup their money by using previous history seasonal charges for those residences. I don't know how it all came out or if it went to court or not.

I am the OP. Thanks for all the suggestions. (I especially liked the suggestion to set up my own power company and run extension cords to my neighbors).

My assumption was that the electric company would go away without billing me, and that if they did bill me based on estimates, a few nicely worded letters would get them to go away. I got a 2nd monthly bill with the minimum charge (under $3). My next month bill should go back to normal, seeing as I have a new meter.

I want to point out that in some states (like Texas) there can be two companies involved. In Texas you have your choice from over 50 electric retailers, but you are stuck with whatever electricity lines/distribution company region you are in.

You cannot change the distributing company of your power since that company services the lines to your home/business. In some cases there is separate billing and you get two bills (one from the supplier and distributor).

I work an electric utility in Northern CA, we don't even try to back bill people anymore when they don't have meters and the meter socket is jumpered over with some copper wire.

slack455 said:   I work an electric utility in Northern CA, we don't even try to back bill people anymore when they don't have meters and the meter socket is jumpered over with some copper wire.

Bypassed completely? Isn't that power theft?

Yes it is, sometimes homeowners are clueless, sometimes they are thieves. I believe we can only back bill three months, so I'm sure someone figured it wasn't worth the cost to back bill and fight it.

We had a lady call in, she hadn't been billed in 30+ years, she wanted to make it right before she died,

Treefarn said:   So I don't pay too much attention to my electric bill. It comes, i pay it. It fluctuates alot, from $500 in winter to $200 in spring.

Maybe its a regional thing but that sounds like CRAZY high electric bills. What do you use that uses so much juice?

Skipping 7 Messages...
AcidSpectrum said:   you already edited your post once, you might have to edit it again. svr411 said he was concerned about a "towering inferno," which is far more likely in smelting aluminum than running a few heat lamps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtCOW1fAj3g

dhl said:   Last time I checked aluminum smelters were not known for having the munchies...


lol... I call a mulligan. Getting a coherent thought together takes time and practice.



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