While NIE can send a meter reader every three months who has to gain access to our home to take a reading, Phoenix Gas is at no such disadvantage as all meter boxes are outside and fitted with a universal lock.
However, Phoenix Gas only take one physical reading per year and price rises are retrospectively calculated using their ‘formula’ — whatever that entails.
If one is paying Phoenix Gas say £75 every month by direct debit actual usage from May to September could be around £25 per month.
In our case we have built up a healthy surplus of over £400, but even though this is firmly in Phoenix Gas coffers, we will be charged at the new higher rate.
Imagine paying for a television fully in advance and, when going to collect it, the shop demands more money as the item price has increased!
I tried asking Phoenix Gas if prudent customers who are in surplus are subsidising late payers.
The answer was that they are not, so how is this large fund treated in their accounts?
Phoenix Gas is owned by a private equity group Terra Firma that has completed transactions worth over £30bn since 1994.
Private equity groups are not especially known for their transparency and this is well reflected with Phoenix Gas regarding their customer billing system