A business customer contacts EWOV after an electricity disconnection (January 2015)

Getting connected and changing energy company, Energy disconnection and water restriction
Case Number 2013/62651
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

A customer contacted EWOV on 14 October 2013 after their business had its electricity supply disconnected. The business moved into the property in September 2013 and established an account with its preferred electricity company. On 10 October 2013, the electricity supply was disconnected. Prior to disconnection, it had not received any notifications or disconnection warning notices from the electricity company. The business contacted the company the same day to request reconnection and found that it was not the disconnecting company. The customer was notified which company had disconnected the property and promptly contacted it to organise reconnection. The customer was dissatisfied that their business had lost a day of trading and revenue estimated to total between $6,000 and $8,000. Dissatisfied with both electricity companies, the customer contacted EWOV for further assistance and to organise reconnection.

The Investigation

The customer's supply was reconnected through EWOV's same day reconnection policy, which requires a company to reconnect a customer once a complaint has been raised with EWOV. EWOV's Investigations found that the disconnecting electricity company had established an occupier account for the address registered in the national database, after its previous customer moved out of the property. The meter associated with the customer's account was linked to a property found in the database, however, the address did not physically exist and notices never reached the customer. On 10 October 2013, it disconnected the electricity supply for unauthorised usage - after no account was established and the account balance remained unpaid.

It apologised for the inconvenience the matter caused the customer. However, it advised that it did not receive a transfer request from another retailer prior to the disconnection. It sent all notifications to the address registered in the national metering database. The company only became aware that the address was incorrect after the disconnection. It confirmed that the billing rights for the business were retrospectively transferred to the customer's preferred electricity company. It also confirmed there were no arrears due.

The customer's preferred electricity company also apologised for the inconvenience caused. It confirmed that the account was re-established from 12 November 2013. It offered a customer service gesture of $3,088.87 in recognition of the financial loss the disconnection caused. This credit was applied to the customer's account balance. Together with a previous payment of $1,218.55 made by the customer, the account was now in credit $4,306.14.

The customer was satisfied with the outcome of the Investigation and the case was closed.

The Outcome

Given that the customer is electricity supply was disconnected, EWOV also completed a WDP assessment as to whether the disconnecting company had correctly followed the required process prior to disconnecting the electricity supply. EWOV's assessment found that while the company had used the address noted in the national database, it was not an address on the LandVic database. EWOV noted that, due to the address inconsistencies, the company could not confirm that the disconnection notices arrived at the actual supply address or, if they did, whether the occupant discarded the letters as they did not recognise the address. Therefore, the company could not demonstrate that it had complied with the requirements of the Energy Retail Code  before disconnecting. The company disagreed with this assessment and the matter was referred to the Essential Services Commission (ESC). The ESC deemed that the electricity company failed to give the customer a disconnection notice in line with the requirements of the Energy Retail Code and it could not prove that a disconnection warning notice was received by the business prior to the disconnection. As a result, a $109 WDP was applicable.

The customer was notified of WDP decision.

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