A customer already on a payment plan, with disconnection looming, contacted EWOV regarding a larger than expected gas and electricity bill that she could not afford to pay (November 2013)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, Trouble paying a bill
Case Number 2013/48627
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

A customer contacted EWOV after receiving imminent disconnection notices from her electricity and gas company (under a dual fuel account). Despite being on a $20 a fortnight payment plan for gas, and the same for electricity (which her energy company told her would cover her usage), the customer received a disconnection notice for both utilities for an account balance of $262.20.

The Investigation

The customer contacted EWOV after her earlier attempt to have the energy company explain her high bill, assess her eligibility for a hardship program and the Utility Relief Grant Scheme, and to keep her electricity and gas connected.

An Assisted Referral was raised, but after the customer was told by her energy company again that she would not receive a payment extension, she re-contacted EWOV and the case escalated to the Real Time Resolution process, and finally as an Investigation.

During the course of the investigation the energy and gas company confirmed that the customer's gas bill for $90.78 and electricity bill for $171.42 were the result of actual meter reads. Also, it agreed that the customer had faithfully and consistently kept up-to-date with her payment plan of $20 a fortnight for both her electricity and gas accounts.

The Outcome

The company waived the customer's outstanding electricity and gas bill in the amount of $262.20. It assessed that a payment of $20 a fortnight for gas was sufficient, but requested an increase to $25 a fortnight to cover electricity - which the customer agreed to pay.

EWOV arranged for a financial counsellor from MoneyHelp to contact the customer to help her manage her financial difficulties. EWOV also provided the customer with details of the Home Energy Saver Scheme (HESS) which offers a free home visit where a HESS worker will provide easy ways to use less energy, budgeting advice, information on rebates, help in understanding energy bills, and advice on purchasing energy efficient appliances.

The company advised the customer that if she is unable to pay a future bill, she should immediately contact its hardship assistance team to discuss her options.

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