A customer contacted EWOV after a voltage variation affected her business (January 2014)

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2013/56751
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

A customer contacted EWOV after a voltage variation affected her business and her electricity distributor failed to address her concerns. She advised a surge went through the property for a few seconds and damaged three computers. She contacted her electricity distributor and was advised that a nearby property had caught fire and caused a fault in the line. 

Seeking compensation for the damaged computers for a total of $8,093.94, she sent a claim form to the company and was advised that she would need to obtain a quote for repairs and/or replacement. She completed these steps, even though the nearest computer technician was over two hours away. However, the distributor then engaged its own technician and as a result advised her claim had been rejected as it believed the surge did not impact her computers.

The Investigation

The distributor confirmed that it attended the customer's property and that its crew checked and tightened connections to the service line supplying the property.  However, there was no record of any advice given regarding a fire at a nearby property.

It also advised that upon receipt of the claim, it contacted the customer on 17 June 2013, to determine whether she had taken reasonable precautions, as a business, against damage resulting from variations in voltage. As she was unable to confirm this, it completed its own assessment of the compensation request.  It engaged a company to assess the computers for surge related damage, and this company was unable to determine any surge related damage to the three computers. The assessor also stated that all three computers were fully functional, with the exception of a hard disk drive on one of the computers. As a result of this assessment it has denied this claim.

The Outcome

EWOV closed the customer's complaint after she did not remain in contact. However, prior to this closure, EWOV advised the customer that we had reviewed the distributor's assessment and confirmed that it was not obliged to pay compensation for damage under the Voltage Variation Guideline or any other common law obligations.  This was because the customer had not substantiated damage to the computers and because she had not taken reasonable precautions for computer protection to minimise the risk of loss or damage to the property.

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