A cracked gas pipe leads to almost $2,000 in damage to a customer's home (September 2014)

Outages, brownouts and power surges, Meters, poles, wires and pipes
Case Number 2014/22023
Outcome Assisted Referral

The Issue

A customer lost gas supply to her family's home on six occasions within 10 days due to a crack in her gas company's network asset pipe. Because her house was situated in a dip, every time it rained the pipe would fill with water, she would lose supply, and the company would have to be called to flush out the pipe.

The customer said that when she called the company to complain, a representative told her the cost of installing a new pipe would be too high, and it would continue to attend the property to flush out the pipe as and when required. The customer was unhappy with this response, as every time the loss of supply occurred her family went without cooking facilities, heating and hot water for up to four hours. She also had to make herself available at home in order for the repair crew to gain access to the property.

The issue had also caused damage to the customer’s home, including: discoloration of the area around the gas meter caused by repeated water flushing; damage to the paint around the manhole in the customer's roof due to workers repeatedly climbing up to re-light the pilot light after every supply loss; and damage to some parts of the walls, doorframes, and window frames in the laundry.

The customer contacted EWOV for assistance in resolving her complaint and an Assisted Referral was raised. In order to resolve the issue, the customer wanted the gas company to permanently fix the pipe to prevent further issues with water in her gas supply, clean the rendered area on her house surrounding the meter and offer financial compensation.

After almost a month, she re-contacted EWOV advising the Assisted Referral process had failed. The matter was initially escalated to EWOV's Real Time Resolution (RTR) process, but the company agreed to an Investigation of the complaint after the RTR process was unable to reach a resolution.

The Investigation

The company contacted EWOV to advise that it had carried out tests and confirmed that the leak was detected at the mains, but it was still considering the best solution to the problem. It offered $300 compensation for the damage, but said that any additional compensation would require receipts. It agreed to clean the discolored area around the gas mains only after the leak was permanently repaired.

The customer was not happy with there being a further delayed and said $300 would not cover the cost of the repairs and inconvenience caused by the loss of supply, which had occurred several more times since she first contacted EWOV. She provided two quotes totalling $1,881 for the repairs and also outlined the inconvenience she and her family incurred, such as having to shower at recreation centers and not being able to heat the home while her child was unwell.

The Outcome

The company offered an apology for the inconvenience the matter caused the customer and her family. It said a review of the best course of action for a permanent fix to the problem of the leak was still underway, but agreed to fully compensate the customer for the repairs in the amount of $1,881. In recognition of the inconvenience caused, the company offered a $500 customer service gesture. The company provided a direct contact to the customer while a permanent fix to cracked pipe was being sought. The customer was satisfied and the case was closed.

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