Low voltage event - damaged appliances (D/96/4)

A customer contacted EIOV claiming that the compressor of her fridge had been damaged following a power interruption and low voltage event (brownout). The customer's claim was for repair costs to her refrigerator of $540 less $58 which she had received from her insurance company. The customer was also concerned about the reliability of her power supply and a lack of response from the company to her requests for explanation of the low voltage event.

The electricity company refused liability for the customer's claim, stating that it was of the view that the damage resulted from the failure of the customer's refrigerator protection equipment.

EIOV conducted a detailed investigation into the customer's issues, including analysis of detailed information from the company and extensive independent technical advice. Information provided by the company indicated that a supply interruption event had taken place as a result of underground cable failure. The electricity company stated that the failure of its supply cable was not attributable to negligence, and that the high voltage fuse had operated as designed.

The independent technical advice provided to EIOV indicated that the cable fault appeared to have resulted from ingestion of moisture which must be the result of a manufacturing defect in the cable or damage at the time of installation.

Based on the facts of the case and the available evidence the Ombudsman determined that by reason of the company's failure to provide reasonable customer service that the fair and reasonable outcome was to direct the company to pay the customer $582.