GREG RAY: Don’t get taken in by the crocodile’s grin

I KNOW this lady whose power bill shot up astronomically, all of a sudden.

Baffled, she phoned her power retailer and some electrician came around. He asked whether she had a smart meter installed. 

She said no, because that’s what she really thought.

Then the electrician looked in her meter box and guess what? A smart meter had been installed, without her even being asked.

“There’s your trouble,” the electrician said. “These things will send your bill right through the roof.”

His advice? “Ring Ausgrid and tell them you want the thing out, pronto. They aren’t allowed to put these in without your permission.”

I know this bloke who does a bit of lecturing at a university in NSW. I can’t identify him, because life as a casual lecturer is a pretty shaky existence. The universities keep finding ways to cut hours and reduce pay, while charging more and more for “education”. 

People who make any sort of waves are most definitely not welcome. 

Anyway, this bloke  received  an angry phone call from a stroppy Chinese woman in Singapore.

She was fuming at him because one of his students was refusing to pay her for all the essays she had written for him.

“I gather that, because I’d failed this student, he’d decided not to pay the organisation that he’d hired to do his work for him, so this woman thought she’d at least get him into trouble for cheating,” the lecturer told me.

But the way the lecturer figures things, nobody is going to thank him for dobbing in a cheat. 

The cheat won’t thank him, the woman who really did the cheat’s work won’t thank him and I bet pounds to peanuts the university won’t thank him.

“Apparently lots of students use these organisations to write all their essays and do their work,” the bloke told me.

Just one of the opportunities created by the online education revolution, apparently.

I know this woman who was visited by a character, apparently representing an energy company, offering her a deal that seemed too good to refuse.

Only mugs settle for the lousy  4 per cent “discount” on their power bills. Ring up and they give you 14 per cent with hardly a murmur.

Well, this character was offering 24 per cent.

“How does that work?” the woman asked, genuinely curious about such a big saving.

“You get 12 per cent off your power and another 12 per cent off your gas,” he enthused.

“Does anybody fall for that?” she queried.

I know this bloke whose mum has a Telstra landline. (You already know where this is headed, don’t you?)

He looked at her most recent bill and saw a lot of weird and unfamiliar numbers (including some 13 numbers) allegedly made every Sunday night about 1am.

His first mistake was wasting time trying to get this problem sorted out at a Telstra shop. Stop laughing, now. Some people are naive. It’s not their fault.

Anyway, when he eventually did what we all must do and got hold of Yuseff at the call centre, it was revealed that the numbers were “information numbers”.

When it was explained that nobody had phoned any information numbers, especially at 1am every Sunday night, Yuseff said an unknown person must have arranged “for regular calls to check on a person’s health”.

He promised to credit the account for the cost of the mystery calls and to try to block the number in future.

“Although the amounts charged were only 30¢  and up to 35¢ , these charges appeared 28 times between 10th June and 9th December 2012. 

‘‘It seems any Tom, Dick or Harry can arrange for any charges to any individual’s  telephone account without their knowledge or consent,” my unhappy correspondent observed.

Like I’ve said before, it’s a jungle out there.

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