First Look Blog

Articles written by the First Look team.


COMMON CAUSE OF INCORRECT BILLING – 2. ARITHMETICAL ERROR

Published by Ken Nunes on 01/09/2018

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The article published by Suntricity on the 25th August 2018 titled COJ Incorrect Billing, highlighted 5 Categories of Common Causes for Billing Errors of the COJ Invoice for Schools, where a further and deeper understanding of each Category is felt necessary.

This article therefore focuses on the 2nd most common cause of COJ Billing Irregularities: ARITHMETICAL (MULTIPLICATION) ERROR

INTRODUCTION:

This error appeared in two of the 30 schools of the study. As can be seen from the above edited extract of the Municipal Invoice, the error is relatively simple to identify:

1.  Start Reading: 15,182.604 – End Reading: 16,029.363 = Estimated Consumption: 846.759 KL

2.  Total KL Charged: 200KL + 8,267.591 = 8,467.591 KL

3.  Total Sewage Charges: 8,467.591 Units

Consequentially, a cost which should be approximately R30,000.00 (based on an average R50.00 per KL), the school is invoiced the astronomical monthly cost of R438,272.64, effectively an average cost of R517.59 per KL.

CONCLUSION:

1.   As can be seen, this Billing Irregularity is relatively simple to understand – the calculation of KL consumption is correct and the decimal point shifts one place when KL costs are applied, where 10 becomes 100, and 100 becomes 1,000. In this case, 846.759KL becomes 8,467.591KL, multiplied by the Water & Sewage charges.

2.   The apparent non-existence of some kind of RED FLAG in the Municipal system should be cause for concern. Emitting a bone fide (therefore legal) invoice to a school (the CUSTOMER) demanding payment of R438.272.64, instead of approximately R30,000.00 is a serious problem.

3.   And finally, one would expect an issue this obviously incorrect to be easily resolved by the Municipality. In truth, the error began in December 2017 and still persists today, at the end of AUGUST 2018…the consequence of which makes unpleasant reading.