Tenant paid too much for five years
Another serviced apartment operator has been accused of breaching its contract with one of the city's power suppliers by reselling electricity to its tenants.
Takan Lodge, a 46-flat property in Wan Chai developed by Takshing Investment, has recently refunded HK$4,895 to a tenant for overpaid electricity fees going back five years.
A tenant at another serviced apartment block, this one in Hung Hom, complained in July about confusion over how electricity was being charged. The block owned by Cheung Kong (Holdings) has reworded the bill it hands to tenants but concerns remain.
The tenant who received the refund has lived in the building in Johnston Road since 1999.
'I wondered whether electricity was being resold here because management has separated the bills for energy and rent since 2006. Management was issuing its own electricity bills to me and my neighbours every month,' said the tenant, who works in logistics.
He asked management about the billing and received the refund soon after along with an invoice stating the overpaid charges. The refund, made in cash, was equivalent to 18 per cent of all electricity fees he had paid between 2006 and this past July.
The next bill management issued to him came directly from Hongkong Electric, which had installed meters for all flats in the block, together with Tak Shing's invoice.
The official bill says the flat occupant is charged at a residential rate, ranging from HK$0.9 to HK$1.11 per unit of electricity.
This was lower than the HK$1.2 rate that Tak Shing had charged in the past, which also happens to be the rate charged to businesses.
'I feel both cheated and confused,' the tenant said. 'No doubt I would not have received a refund for the overpaid charges had I not written to the management after seeing the Post article on the subject.'
A spokeswoman for Hongkong Electric said it would write to Takan Lodge to remind the company about the supply rule, which does not allow customers to resell electricity it supplies.
Francis Wong, manager of Takan Lodge, said the case was an isolated one.
Meanwhile, CLP Power said there was no resale of electricity on the part of Harbourfront Horizon, operated by a subsidiary of Cheung Kong.
The South China Morning Post reported in July that a tenant in Horizon complained he was billed with the company's own invoices for 'electricity by meter' without being told how it was calculated.
It was unclear whether the tariff Horizon was charging the tenants was higher than what CLP Power was charging it.
'After investigation, we understand that the charge is not just for electricity but also covers utility management. We have requested the management of [Horizon] to change the name so as to avoid confusion by their tenants,' a CLP Power spokeswoman said. 'If the charges are about utility management service, it does not constitute a breach of the supply rule,' she said.
But a tenant says the reworded bill is even more confusing. 'I asked them to define utility. They said Cable TV, shuttle bus service and swimming pool ... I thought such management fees were already included in the rental,' the tenant said.
The proportion the refund represented of all the electricity fees the tenant had paid at Takan Lodge over the past five years.