The CEO of Hydro One admits the Crown corporation “dropped the ball” after thousands of billing complaints flooded the Ontario ombudsman’s office in a matter of weeks.

Hydro One told CityNews the majority of the issues are linked to a new billing system implemented in May, as well as technical glitches.

“We are a customer service organization. We dropped the ball on this one. I freely admit that,” said Hydro One CEO, Carm Marcello.

“Some customers aren’t getting bills in a timely fashion and when they do receive a bill, imagine a person on fixed income all of a sudden seeing one big bill and we are going into their bank account (for automatic withdrawals).”

“We are working on the backlog, improving the customer service, and we are also working on technical fixes as we speak.”

But one woman CityNews spoke to said late bills aren’t the only issue. Diane Dighi feels she’s been charged for electricity she didn’t use at her Haliburton cottage.

Dighi says the cottage is rarely used in the winter, and when it is a wood-burning stove provides heat. Her average bill is around $200.

At the end of December she received a statement saying she had a credit of $267 on her account. So she was more than a bit taken aback when she was hit with four separate bills on January 17 for $1172.

“They can’t explain to my why and they give me all kinds of excuses which I cannot accept,” Dighi said.

“I totally feel I’m being ripped off.”

Dighi says she received a call from Hydro One on Wednesday and it offered to pay for half of the mammoth bill.

Hydro One says it is looking into the slew of complaints and will offer compensation where it’s warranted.

About two weeks ago Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin launched an investigation into billing problems at Hydro One. Since then about 4000 customers have contacted his office. That’s about one complaint every five minutes.

It’s the highest number of complaints the office has received in its 38-year history.

Marin’s probe will delve into the transparency of the utility’s billing practices and how effective the process has been in addressing and responding to customer billing concerns.

The nine-month investigation is being conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT).

With files from Patricia D’Cunha.

How to file a complaint with Hydro One:

Click here to fill out the complaint form.
Email the office at info@ombudsman.on.ca.
Call the office at 1-800-263-1830.