A BILLING mistake made by a Bord Gáis employee last autumn is set to leave the company out of pocket by more than €3 million, the company confirmed last night.
Bord Gáis Energy said it would absorb €3.3 million in costs associated with the error, which resulted in nearly 60,000 customers being undercharged by an average of just under €60 over the winter months.
The company said 57,000 customers who use its metered systems had been affected by the billing mistake, which it blamed on “simple human error”.
Bord Gáis Energy is the only company to have its gas prices controlled by the Commission for Energy Regulation.
Last year it applied for a price increase of 28 per cent, based on spiralling prices on international energy markets, but it was given the green light for an increase of just 21.7 per cent, which came into effect at the beginning of October 2011.
The increase pushed the average domestic gas bill of €720 a year to almost €900.
When the company’s computer systems were being updated at that time, an increase of less than half the sanctioned amount was applied to the accounts of 57,000 pay-as-you-go customers.
A spokesman told The Irish Times that the increase had been misapplied to tens of thousands of its customers because the company’s processes required a manual intervention to update prices on the system.
“Unfortunately, human errors were made in the price update instruction process, which have led to the undercharging,” he said.
The problem only came to light following an internal review, which was carried out by the energy supplier’s revenue control section after it identified an unexpected shortfall in income from metered customers over the past five months.
“In view of the fact that the fault for the error lies entirely with Bord Gáis, the company will not be asking PAYG customers to pay for the undercharge to their accounts and will absorb the full costs. The correct prices will be applied from March 15th, 2012,” the spokesman said.
He added that the extensive review of Bord Gáis Energy’s billing systems since the autumn had revealed 2,000 additional bill-pay gas customers had been undercharged as a result of other errors. The average amount customers had been undercharged was €3 a month since last October.
A further 170 customers were overcharged by an average of €51 over the same period. All the customers who were overcharged are being reimbursed, the company confirmed.
Bord Gáis is now in the process of writing to all affected customers to advise them of the billing errors.