Energy Retailers using Estimates rather than Actual Meter Readings

In this current environment where we are being told that energy prices are on the rise, the practice of ‘Estimates’ for meter readings used by energy retailers should be outlawed!
We are all making efforts to reduce our energy usage. The practice of estimates invariably leads to higher bills. It is a money grabbing enterprise that needs to called out as such. Energy retailers should not be allowed to do this.
What’s worse is that when you report the error you are advised that the problem will be rectified at the next meter read. I went through this exercise and the next bill still used an estimate for the Gas usage – thanks GloBird Energy! Of course, you can PAY for the privilege of them reading the meter if you want the issue rectified sooner……


Well you can always do a self-read and send it to globird if you have activated an account with them.
No cost involved, except a few minutes of your time and the ability to take a photo of the meter and upload it.
The account should be revised once that is done.


Right on!

FWIW Globird does not support direct debits to a bank account, just to a credit card and accepts BPay and cards for payments as well as showing deferit, wechat pay and AliPay as options.


Only short term for bills which it is an overestimate of usage. For the next bill where it is read, adjustment occurs so that the consumer isn’t out of pocket.

It may in fact be a way of saving a small amount of money if there is a price rise between the (over) estimate and the next read meter read. One would be paying for future use with an overestimated bill…at a lower usage charge. This is the risk a utility takes when giving estimated bills. But, the inverse applies if the bill is an underestimate. I would prefer an overestimate in such case.


This is for electricity meters.


Smart meters - those that communicate over the mobile network - rather than those that calculate time of day usage, were installed at our house. Unfortunately they didn’t realise the mobile signal is near non-existent at our place. We have had near a year of “estimated” usage. Eventually Telstra will build those two towers, but I’m not expecting a shock bill as our usage is fairly regular. In the meantime they are saving on meter readers driving out every 3 months.

Assume if you are with one of the better known retailers though there is now an added daily charge for the smart meter?

Our smart meter failed the initial signal test. The tech received authority to install an external mounted antennae which sits on top of the metal meter box. Apparently a common issue. Less than 900m to the Telstra mobile tower. :joy:
IE A nearby tower is no assurance.

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With Ergon. The digital meter is new (the old one had the spinning wheels and little dials). We were told the numbers would not be cumulative, like the old meter, where you could read it and subtract that from the previous reading. It does a monthly total, or something like. It has a small antenna under what looks like an upside down drinking cup.

Our estimated bill just says “This is because we didn’t receive all of the actual usage information from your meter at the time of billing.” There is no extra charge above the $3.56 we were paying for Meter Services.

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The standard smart meter provides a cumulative total commencing with zero as of the date of installation. It’s no different in that respect from the old style mechanical (spinning disc) meters. Perhaps Ergon were saying the smart meter read was not contiguous with the old meter! We received a bill based on the final read on the old meter when it was replaced and the new meter read based on zero for the read on the start date at changeover.

Clear as mud?


Probably not. For a start, you will be the one wearing the cost if estimates can never be used.

Not necessarily. It could lead to a bill that is lower than it ought to be. In the long run, it makes no difference to the total of your bills.

Regardless, as more and more smart meters are in use, this whole question goes away - so I wouldn’t be urging the government to get involved.

I assume that you don’t currently have a smart meter. Have you considered getting one? Of course you may have to pay for the new meter. You would need to discuss with your provider.

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Since the original poster was talking about gas, not electricity, not sure what smart meters have to do with things.
Unless gas meters are now capable of transmitting readings and therefore do not need to be manually read.
Are they?

Hello Person…
My issue relates to Gas Meters. There is no smart gas meter currently available. In Victoria a lot of people are trying to move away from using gas (by installing induction cooktops, etc) Therefore the use of estimates (based on previous usage) will most likely lead to a higher bill until an actual reading is done (supposedly once every 3 months). Why should I pay more in the intervening period between an estimate and an actual read? It’s lazy on the part of the retailers.

Gas meters are still pretty basic and do require a manual read.

Whoops. Sorry.

Then I guess it comes down to state government policy. Do they

a) want to encourage / force everyone off gas (in the longer term)
b) want to force everyone onto a smart meter1
c) want to outlaw the use of estimates

Have you asked your local MP?

1 as Victoria has done for electricity but which may be tricky for gas because such a thing may not exist for gas (as pointed out) and most likely in order to have a smart gas meter the gas meter would itself need access to electricity.

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It’s open as how some may take the first paras of the OP. As general observations about Energy Retailers and estimated readings. IE Common for both gas and electricity services. GloBird the energy provider delivers both. Or as only about gas.

There are responses specific to the example shared which related to a gas meter reading. There are also later added posts concerning similar for electricity metering.

Whether intended or not it’s a useful observation that the use of Smart Meters is well established for electricity. Similar benefits could be delivered for gas, however the type of meter and importantly likely need for a connection to a power supply add cost to upgrade. Such meters for gas exist.
Digital Meter Program| AGN | Australian Gas Networks
Vector to install 100k smart gas meters - Energy Magazine

How the Aussie gas suppliers might approach the costs of an upgrade - our NG meter of an old design from the 1980’s was deemed end of life and replaced with a new, still manual read meter several years ago. The cost of the work and meter was added to the gas bill! Brisbane urban area reticulated gas network.


The regulations that energy retailers operate under, certainly in my state of Victoria, allows them to use estimates for meter reading.

But they must allow the customer to dispute the estimate, and facilitate a method of providing a self-read. At no cost. And they must use that as a correction to their estimate.

Your gas retailer does just that. So get your camera out and send them the real meter reading.


I had the amusing situation where the energy retailer did an actual meter reading but somehow the reading ended up incorrect (this was before I had a smart meter). I guess someone made a typo. So it’s not just estimates that have to be corrected.

In this case, I was fortunate that the error was so egregious that the meter was still reading less than what I had been billed for by the time I noticed the error and complained. So by providing to them the real meter reading they could deduce that their actual reading must have been incorrect (unless the meter had been running backwards).

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Good idea. Sorry, but sucks that we have to pay and then do the job ourselves too? Disappointing!

I’m with AGL, read my own meter ever month and my most recent monthly bill was over $600, over four times what it should be for this time of year. I rang AGL and Resolutions told me it would be a ‘catch up’ bill and would adjust over time, they also convinced me to move to quarterly bills. Given I submit my own meter read I was dubious so decided to track it and read my meter every week. Imagine my surprise when I read the meter this week to discover it had gone BACKWARDS 900KW! Another call to AGL who didn’t believe me until I emailed photos of each read which are indisputable. End result they wiped the $600 bill and I am now $170 in credit. But the 50 million $ question how does a meter go backwards almost 1k kilowatts - are energy companies able to manipulate our meters?

They can go backwards. The older style meters can count down (under certain conditions of household useage) as well as up. There’s no provision for these meters to be manipulated remotely.

Is it an accumulation meter (mechanical with spinning disc) and dials/counter or a digital smart meter?

Whether it is what has happened in your instance, it’s possible to misread the older style dial type meters without realising the error. Misreading the 1,000’s dial 1 digit might explain the type of error noted.

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