As a single man living in a 1500sq ft house, I have a gas furnace for heat, and a gas water heater.
My typical monthly usage averages around 6-10ccf per month.
Due to such a small usage, 40% of my gas bill is the "Customer charge" that states is a charge for sending the bill, postage, reading meters, and costs associated with gas service that would be charged even if I used no gas for the month. 40% of my bill is that charge itself, so you would think they would at least perform those duties.
I find out however, that Centerpoint often "estimates" the usage. They say it is legal if the meter is located in a difficult area, but mine is 4 feet away from my front driveway, on the side of the house, and not behind any fences or anything. I took a picture of the meter on Jan.31, and it read 293ccf used.
The bill I had received a full seven days earlier stated a meter reading on that day of 310ccf used.
I called, spoke with nasty customer service, and finally they said an "investigation" would occur into the usage and billing on my account.
I received a statement a few weeks later with a breakdown of the last 2 months of billing, with "Corrected" usage meter readings listed. This generated a credit on my account, for having paid for the last 3 months of service as billed.
Wouldnt you know, that the latest bill I receive, bills me from the last "corrected estimate" which was way too low, appx 95ccf lower than the picture of the meter I took read, and they charged me for the entire amount between that, and the latest reading. How does a man that averages 6-10 ccf per month, suddenly use 108ccf in one month???
This fiasco, that I pay for in terms of a "Customer Charge" for them to READ METERS as stated as a definition of that charge, and then have the entire credit I had for my account eaten up by a lowballed estimate for usage, is nothing more than a sketchy math trick that they have devised to reclaim the credit they had to issue for their own contractual fraud.
I am paying them 40% of my bill to do something they have not done, I have had to trust someone to "Estimate" my usage, and not even look at the meter, especially when I have brought this to their attention and have formally had it researched.
Just imagine the thousands of customers that pay their bills based on these "estimates" (despite paying a fee on the bill for direct meter reading), and never go back to double check their meter against these estimates?? Imagine the millions of dollars overbilled and KEPT because Centerpoint is a fraudulent racket that goes from the energy industry all the way down to the Texas Railroad Commission.
It is a monopoly as well. There are no other service providers for natural gas. They have this area tied up, and its not fair, not competetive, and outright fraudulent.
How hard is it to simply "do" what you are billing people in excess of their usage to do???