A customer experiences multiple unplanned gas outages over winter (December 2016)

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2016/23784
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

During winter and spring Mr F repeatedly lost gas supply, leaving him without heating, cooking facilities and hot water for several hours at a time. In each case he had to call his gas distributor to get back on supply, and to organise a representative from the distributor to visit his property to relight the pilot light. Mr F also had concerns about a distributor representative who attended the property while his wife was home, saying he was rude and dismissive.

After several calls to the distributor, Mr F was not satisfied, and he contacted EWOV. We raised an Assisted Referral with the distributor, outlining what Mr F wanted to resolve the issue. This was to:

  • fix the gas supply issue
  • consider compensation due to the amount of unplanned gas outages in his area
  • issue an apology to his wife due to the rude and dismissive behaviour of a distributor representative

The distributor did not contact Mr F within the required timeframes of the Assisted Referral (three business days by phone, or five business days in writing) so EWOV escalated the complaint to an Investigation.

The Investigation

As part of the Investigations, EWOV asked the distributor to provide us with all contact notes between it and Mr F, the gas outage history at Mr F’s premises, as well as any defect notices issued within the previous 2 years. We also asked it to tell us if it believed that a Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) payment had been made, or should be made.

The distributor responded by apologising for the inconvenience caused by the gas supply outages. It said that over a five month period there were four outages caused by water in its pipes. However, because the four outages did not entitle Mr F to a GSL payment under the Gas Distribution System Code (there must be five unplanned supply outages within one year before a customer can receive the $150 GSL payment) it did not consider the issue urgent. It also added that the specialist equipment required to assess and repair the issue was currently in use at a more urgent site. However, once those upgrades were complete it would use the equipment to assess the pipes in Mr F’s street.

As a gesture of goodwill the distributor offered to pay $150 to Mr F, regardless of whether a GSL payment became applicable in the future. However, while EWOV’s Investigation was being conducted, Mr F contacted us to tell us he had again lost gas supply, taking the number of unplanned gas supply outages up to five within one year, entitling him to the GSL payment.

The Outcome

The distributor apologised for the inconvenience the gas supply outages had caused, and also sent a formal letter of apology to Mr F and his wife for the rudeness his wife experienced from one of its representatives.

The distributor said the gas pipes in Mr F’s street were next in line to be assessed, which would take place in January 2017. The distributor said it would keep Mr F informed about the results of its investigation into the pipes, and the next steps.

EWOV informed the distributor about the fifth gas supply interruption experienced by Mr F, and the distributor said it would assess whether a GSL payment was applicable. Regardless, it would send Mr K a $150 cheque as a gesture of goodwill.

Mr F was satisfied with the outcome and the case was closed.

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