An explanation of how the ESB estimates meter readings for the purpose of billing has been obtained by Labour Dail Deputy Brian O’Shea from the company’s Customer Supply Manager, Mr. Pat Fenlon.

Mr. Fenlon said that estimated readings were based on customer’s usage pattern and in the vast majority of cases, based on research and customer feedback, the estimates were reasonable and acceptable to customers. This was especially so where the ESB succeeded in obtaining four actual reads per year which was its objective. “Where we are successful in this regard the remaining two billing periods that are estimated will be highly accurate”, he said.

And he went on: “The matter becomes more problematic where due to access difficulties regular actual reads are not obtained. Our estimation formula then, because it has fewer actual historical readings to work on, can result in estimates that may be significantly higher or lower than the actual usage. It certainly is not the case in such instances that all estimates are higher than the actual reading as there are higher.

“Any customer with an estimate significantly higher or lower than the actual can contact us with his/her own reading and we will be happy to issue an amended bill based on his/her own reading. As regards the wait times in getting through to our customer service centre: significant progress has been made on this front over the last couple of years. The Commissioner for Energy Regulation has set down very demanding targets for telephone answering times and we have exceeded these each year. Our performance in this regard is now of world-class standard and as a result we very rarely get complaints about the service.

“There can be rare occasions of course when for a variety of reasons some customers may find themselves waiting for longer than they would consider acceptable but such times should not extend to more than a few minutes at most. It is most unfortunate that some of your constituents found themselves in such situations and we regret the inconvenience they were caused. Be assured however that such cases are the exception rather than the rule.

“We are continuing to enhance our customer service across all fronts and we are endeavouring to exceed expectations in all our interactions with our customers”.