Quality of supply (D/98/1)

Case number: D/98/1
Date of Decision: 15 May 1998
Decision accepted by the customer: Yes

A customer called EIOV regarding supply interruptions and low voltage events at his premises. He was concerned the low voltage events threatened his safety, and felt his electricity company should install safety switch equipment to prevent low voltage at his property. He was unhappy regarding the time the company took to attend to faults in his area, and was unable to resolve the matter directly with the company.

The company provided EIOV with details of past works and future plans to improve the reliability of supply in the area, and stated supply was in compliance with the Distribution Code. The company raised difficulties associated with supplying the customer's area, which was ruggedly terrained with severe weather conditions.

The customer raised concerns that two interruptions of many hours were not shown on the company's reports to EIOV. The company advised that this was due to an error and limitations of its monitoring system.

EIOV discussed the customer's concerns regarding the safety of his supply with the Office of the Regulator-General (ORG) and the Office of the Chief Electrical Inspector (OCEI) during the investigation.The Ombudsman noted following these discussions that there was no requirement on the company to install the equipment the customer sought, and that the safety of his electrical installation was his responsibility.

The Ombudsman considered the company had fulfilled its requirements under the Distribution Code, suggesting that the customer contact the ORG regarding the Code as it was undergoing review.

The Ombudsman stated her concerns at the number and frequency of supply problems affecting the customer's residence, but in reviewing past and planned asset maintenance and improvement works was satisfied the company was complying with the Distribution Code.

The Ombudsman considered the level of customer service the company provided was less than satisfactory. She stated her concern at the company's failure to provide low voltage safety information when approached by the customer; its delay in providing a fully trained local service agent; its inefficient attendance to the customer's supply interruptions; and its inadequate and extremely tardy response to the matters agreed at a conciliation meeting held during the investigation.

The Ombudsman made a binding decision that the company install voltage monitoring equipment at the customer's premises for a period of 12 months and act on the data obtained in accordance with clause 13 (Voltage) of the Distribution Code; contact the customer's local Community Association and offer to address the Association regarding quality of supply and safety issues; and place advertisements in a local newspaper regarding planned works in the area, low voltage and appliance safety and the company's local service agent.

The Ombudsman also directed that the company pay the customer $350 in compensation for inadequate customer service following information delays, errors and insufficient detail.