By James Armstrong and Lama Nicolas Global News
TORONTO – A Toronto man is looking for answers after receiving an $11,000 hydro bill.
In the past six years, Tony Zuniga says, he’s never missed a hydro payment. His average bill is roughly $200.
Then in June, he received a bill for over $11,000. He started calling friends to compare prices and found they were paying less than his regular $200.
“I was completely speechless, I thought this was just a misunderstanding,” Zuniga said in an interview with Global News Monday. “I am paying the amount of money that a convenience store, a Laundromat and a body shop [are paying].”
The bill was what Toronto Hydro calls, a “catch up bill.” Zuniga’s home was not using a smart meter but instead a meter which only estimates how much electricity is used. Toronto Hydro will occasionally check the meter and recalculate how much electricity is being used and issue a bill.
Zuniga insists the bill is wrong. He asked Toronto Hydro to recalculate the costs.
“I said to them now that you installed a smart meter, now you have the accurate reading so, let meter run for one month and now show me the amount of what we’re using,” he said. “They said ‘no, how are you going to make the payments.’”
Toronto Hydro spokesperson Tanya Bruckmueller said the agency is working to recalculate how much Zuniga will have to pay.
“For this customer, I can’t comment specifically on what that amount will be. We’re still working out the calculations,” she said. “But we’ll of course work with him and we’ve been in touch with him to work out a payment plan that works with him.”
Bruckmueller said this isn’t the first time a customer has received a larger-than-usual catch up bill. She suggested people heed the warning and switch over to a smart meter.
“When customers do get an accurate reading they’re not able to foresee what that total bill will be and nobody wants to get a catch up bill when they’re used to sort of budgeting $100 or $200 for hydro and then all of a sudden they’re getting a catch up bill for a few thousand,” she said.
Despite not knowing how much he will have to pay or how much electricity he uses, Zuniga said the bill requires him to pay within 10 days or his hydro will be cut off.
© Shaw Media, 2013