A business customer contacted EWOV after it was disconnected in error (July 2013)

Energy disconnection and water restriction
Case Number 2013/7916
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

A business customer managing a restaurant in Melbourne received a bill for gas usage for the restaurant that was due on 2 November 2012. She then received a reminder notice on 8 November 2012 and a disconnection warning notice on 20 November 2012. The bill was paid in full by cheque on 23 November 2012. However, at 10:00 am on 3 January 2013, two men entered the property and asked to see the gas meter. The men subsequently left the property and a few minutes later, kitchen staff at the restaurant discovered that the gas supply had been disconnected. The manager called the gas company and it advised the disconnection had been carried out in error. The customer was reconnected at 3:15pm the same day. The business calculated that it had lost $1,634 as a result of the disconnection and requested compensation for this loss. The gas company denied the claim for compensation but offered a credit of $100 as a gesture of goodwill. The customer was unhappy with this offer and contacted EWOV.

The Investigation

EWOV requested a copy of the customer’s billing and payment history from the gas company. EWOV also requested a copy of the customer’s contact notes.  EWOV reviewed this material and then met with a representative of the gas company to discuss the case further. During this meeting it was agreed that the customer’s cheque payment had cleared on 3 December 2012 and the gas company should have cancelled the disconnection request on this day. However, the disconnection was not cancelled due to an error on the gas company’s behalf.

The Outcome

The gas company accepted the disconnection occurred as a result of the gas company’s mistake. It apologised to the customer and agreed to pay the loss sustained by the business as a direct result of the disconnection ($1,634). The customer was satisfied with this outcome. EWOV separately investigated whether the disconnection was wrongful. The gas company confirmed that the gas supply was disconnected on 3 January 2013 at 10.00 am, and reconnected on 3 January 2013 at 3.15 pm. EWOV calculated that if the disconnection was determined to be wrongful, the Wrongful Disconnection Payment (WDP) amount applicable would be $54.69 (calculated at $250.00 per day pro rata). The gas company did not acknowledge that the disconnection was wrongful, but it did offer to apply a credit of $54.69 (equivalent to the WDP) to the customer’s account balance in recognition of the inconvenience caused by the disconnection.

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