Saturday, August 20, 2011

Who is being ripped-off? TNB or consumers?

It is quite amusing to read newspaper reports about some people complaining how they have been ‘ripped-off’ by TNB when new electricity meters were installed at their houses.

What they say may hold some water, and talking about water this writer still remembers the time it was claimed that by placing a container of water on top of the metre, it would run slower, hence saving on electricity bills.

Also, earlier during the days of film photography and bromide I often saw folks inserting a piece of negative film at the back of the meter, the purpose of which was to reduce electricity billing, too.

So, you see, devious attempts to circumvent the metre have been around for decades, and it only proves further the claims by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) that electricity theft is rampant, especially among commercial users.

Fast forward to today’s era of high technology, and we hear of power thieves using elaborate measures and using high-tech equipment to steal electricity that caused losses amounting to millions of ringgit on the part of TNB.

So bent are some people on getting power freebies that there has been at least one case where the culprits even built a special ‘escape’ tunnel to remove the equipment used for stealing electricity whenever a raid was conducted.

Because of this the TNB has decided to wage war on power thieves. The company has begun to replace faulty or tampered metres from premises as well as to recalibrate existing metres. No sooner had they done this that people began to cry foul, complaining their readings have gone up and that TNB is ripping them off!

The truth is in the faulty metre. I would think it natural for billings to be higher now as compared to those recorded by faulty or tampered metres. So strident were the complaints that at least one company has taken TNB to court.

Perhaps, there could have been genuine cases of extreme over billing, especially among homeowners, but on the whole we would think that the complainants are just trying to push the ball back to the power company.

Some people will go to great pains to deny their misdeeds until they are shown proof, much like what happened recently when road users received traffic summonses and claimed that they had never broken the law – until they became red faced when shown the traffic photos.

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