Relevance of the job cards
Job cards record information pertaining to the functioning, installation and removal of the meter. This information is vital when a dispute arises as to whether the consumption charges billed to a consumer are correct, as it is impossible to determine same without knowing when the meter was installed, what the opening (or installation) reading was, when the meter was removed, what the closing (or removal) reading was, and whether the meter was functioning or recording consumption correctly.
This information is imperative, as it allows a consumer to determine whether the information that the municipality uses to calculate the charges owing is actually correct. Without this information, it is difficult for consumers to prove any challenge to the accuracy of the amounts that they are charged.
In recent times City Power has refused to provide job cards to clients. Its superfluous reasoning for the same is that job cards are now sent to the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality’s central billing department (and not the client) with the sanguine expectance that the City’s billing department will use those job cards to investigate and rectify any issues reported in relation to the account. Another reason proffered by City Power for its new policy in denying consumers access to job cards, is that City Power claims that consumers use them to defraud the City.
The refusal by City Power to allow a consumer access to job cards is unlawful for the following reasons:
To avoid being in a situation where you are at the mercy of the municipality, keep the best records that you can of your invoices, which meters are at the property, the dates and readings when meters are removed or installed, the dates when meters are read by the municipality and the readings, and take your own meter readings roughly once a month, to allow you to detect any abnormalities or faults soon after they arise. Also keep good records of your attempts to raise disputes and queries with the municipality, including records of query numbers and the time and date that they were logged and with whom they were logged, dates of meetings with officials and dates that you attended a walk in centre, who assisted you and what that advice was.
In virtually all instances of communication with a municipality you can request a reference number for the communication (which may be different to a query or dispute or objection number), which will serve as proof of the interaction even if it does not serve as proof of the query/dispute/objection. This will show your attempts to remedy the problem, when you are denied the ability to log a query/dispute/objection for any reason.
There is no legal justification for a municipality to deny a consumer access to job cards that relate to that consumer’s property or account. A refusal to provide job cards is unlawful and can be challenged in terms of the laws stipulated above.
Consumers facing this problem should raise the issue with the municipality concerned and follow the prescribed dispute resolution process, to request the job cards and dispute the denial of access to same. A consumer who is suffering extreme prejudice (either financially or due to the threat or taking of credit control against them) may not have time to follow the prescribed process (which may take months or even years) and may then need to approach an attorney for urgent legal assistance or that of the court.