A customer contacted EWOV claiming his energy distributor would not reimburse him for electronic goods damaged by a power surge (November 2013)

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2013/18633
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Following a power surge that affected several Melbourne suburbs, Mr K submitted a claim to his energy distribution company for several electrical goods damaged by the surge. While most of his claims were approved, his distribution company did not approve compensation for a new washing machine he purchased after the surge event. In order to approve the claim, Mr K's energy distributor explained that he would need to substantiate his ownership of the old machine, that his old machine was actually damaged by the surge, and that it could not be repaired rather than replaced.

Mr K said that after he heard a radio announcement by a representative of his energy distributor, stating that he could replace surged damaged appliances, he felt free to get rid of his old machine and buy a new one.

The customer said that he signed the claim form (which stated that evidence of surge damage was required and damaged appliances must not be disposed of without prior agreement with the company), but proceeded to throw out his old washing machine after he heard the radio announcement.

EWOV raised an Assisted Referral with the energy distributor regarding Mr K's concerns, and it requested the issue be investigated by EWOV.

The Investigation

The energy distributor said that the radio message heard by Mr K did not explicitly say what customers would need to provide in order to receive compensation. Rather, customers were referred to the customer service line and the claims form, where the compensation process is outlined.

The power distributor said that their representative made no "like-for-like" promise during the radio announcement.

As such, the power distributor remained unwilling to approve the washing machine claim without evidence that Mr K owned a machine damaged by the surge.

The Outcome

Mr K abandoned the washing machine portion of his claim and the power distributor agreed to compensate him $505.07 for the undisputed items made in his claim. Mr K also received a $50 credit in recognition of the misunderstanding that may have been caused by the radio announcement.

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