#FinancialFridays: The Dreaded “Catch-up” Bill

CBC released this story on January 15th: Complaints soar as Enbridge customers face catch-up bills in the thousands

Francesca here, telling a story!

Basically, the story is that Enbridge Gas is struggling to read its meters in a timely manner.

I know this story personally as my daughter, who lives in northern Ontario, went 12 months without a meter read and then had a large catch-up bill after a harsh winter.

It’s important to know if your bill is estimated or not, as that helps prevent these large catch-up bills.

If you look at your bill, in the area that is circled below – you see the word “Estimated”. That’s the United Way’s bill, so don’t panic at the high usage, it’s a big building! If you see ‘estimated’ on your meter, you can go and read your own meter and submit a reading.

It’s important to be accurate when you submit, if you subtract a few cubic meters to lower your bill, it will get corrected when they DO finally read your meter.

You can submit your meter reading via the Enbridge website here:

They are running a contest right now to win some prizes if you submit your meter reading, so it could be worth it.

If you’ve been frustrated by a large catch-up bill and want to add your voice to the issue, you can file a complaint with the Ontario Energy Board here. We did that with my daughter’s situation, and it was an interesting process.

We do need to pay for products we use, so there’s no compensation for being stuck with estimated bills. If the catch-up bill is too big for you to pay all at once, Enbridge should be open to negotiation around spreading the payments out over a few months or even a year.

This catch-up bill situation is different than for those on equal billing. It’s my understanding that when your equal billing reconciles in July if you’re short, it just gets added to the next 12 months and is spread out as part of your new monthly equal billing payment amount.

Personally, I always like to pay $10-$20 MORE than my equal billing amount, and often, after a milder winter, I have enough credit that I have no bill in July.

Always look at your bills, know how to read your bills and that is a great way to manage your bills too. If you are struggling with natural gas or electricity bills this winter, call the LEAP program as low-income applicants might be able to receive assistance.