Students looking at power bill

Students should watch power bills

Students are being warned to take pictures of their electricity meter to avoid being stung with a high bill.

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“Signing up with an electricity provider is perhaps one of the least fun parts of setting up a student flat. However, we’d urge you to take a breath, find the meter, and take a photo,” Utilities Disputes Commissioner Nanette Moreau says.

“We’ve seen countless cases over the years of new tenants getting landed with sky-high power bills because previous tenants haven’t properly closed their accounts.

“One group of new tenants, who hadn’t set up an account when they moved in, received a disconnection notice and a very high bill three months later,” Ms Moreau says.

She said the free disputes resolution service also heard from people who were still receiving bills long after they had left a flat. “Getting it right when you open and close your account will save a lot of headaches.”

Utilities Disputes has these tips:

  1. When you move in, take a picture of the meter display, making sure you can clearly see the numbers

  2. Contact an energy provider to set up your account. Use Consumer NZ’s powerswitch.org.nz to compare prices and plans

  3. Agree with your flatmates about how you will pay power bills

  4. Read your first bill carefully and contact your company if you have any questions

  5. When you move out, take a picture of the meter display and call your provider to close the account.

The person named as the account holder is responsible for all bills, so communication is important. It’s a good idea for flatmates to agree in writing – eg a flat email – how the bills will be paid. And the account holder details should be current, especially when people move out.