Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sydney Gas Price Shock – 10,596 % increase

In the three previous years, that quarter’s heating gas bill for the 105 apartments in one tower of her Sydney CBD unit complex had been $78, $208 and $97 respectively. But that year, in the second quarter of 2015,  it was a stunning $10,377 – a rise over the year before of an astonishing 10,596 per cent.

“It was bewildering,” says Ms Richards, who looks after all the bills of the city centre apartment building Maestri Towers on Sussex and Kent streets. “I knew that couldn’t be right.

“There’d been nothing that had changed in our circumstances or our use of the gas heating for the apartments that could possibly explain such a phenomenal increase in our bill.”

It prompted members of the executive committee to take a much closer look at all their AGL gas bills, uncovering some increases of over 15,000 per cent. The building’s chair Michael Heaney was outraged. “This is the biggest scam in NSW since the bottom-of-the-harbour tax scams of the 1970s,” he says.

“The shocking thing is that this is going on because some buildings don’t know about checking their gas bills, and often they go straight to the strata manager to pay who may have no idea what’s going on. Many, as well, are on automatic payment.

“One contractor we had in said he knows of 60 other buildings now all screaming about their gas bills. It’s a massive scam.”

Certainly, they’re not alone. In Zetland, Tony Zamora, the newly elected treasurer of another apartment building, was checking the previous three years’ financials and found that in 2013, the gas bill for his block was $2000. In 2014, that shot up to $150,000 and in 2015, $170,000 – an 85-fold rise in two years.

“It was absolutely outrageous!” he says. “I knew it couldn’t be right. If it had only gone up a little, we would have ignored it but going up by that much!”

Meanwhile, in nearby Kensington, the chair of a building in apartment complex Raleigh Park was also stupefied by their bills. “We’ve noticed a huge escalation in our bills,” says Norman Dusheiko.

The sudden bill increase prompted members of the executive committee to take a much closer look at all their AGL gas bills.

“I think there’s a huge problem with them. We’ve been trying to get hold of our bills since May last year to check them, but it’s proving very difficult. We don’t know what’s happening. The last bill we even had a big credit, but we’re still trying hard to resolve the situation.”

Read more on SMH

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