A customer experiences unplanned electricity off-supply event and consequential damage to his appliances (November 2013)

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2013/3456
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

The customer was dissatisfied with an electricity distributor about a 10-hour unplanned supply outage and supply variation event on 20 June 2012. The electricity distributor attended his property to restore supply after a tree on a neighbour’s private property had fallen on power lines due to a bad storm and wind activity. He was advised by the distributor to engage an electrician to attend the property and inspect the appliances he believed had been damaged as a result of the incident. The cost of the damaged appliances totalled $1,975. He submitted a claim to the electricity distributor for reimbursement of $1,975. However, the company refused to pay the claim as it said the unplanned outage was not a result of mechanical or equipment failure and was outside of its control. He contacted the electricity distributor via email to tell it that he was dissatisfied with the claim refusal.

He contacted EWOV for assistance and an Assisted Referral was raised on 18 January 2013. Following this, he was sent another email by the electricity distributor which reiterated that it would not pay his claim as it was outside the limits of the Essential Services Commission’s Electricity Industry Guideline No. 11 – Voltage Variation Compensation. It reconfirmed that the outage was outside of its control and was the result of a tree on a neighbour’s private property falling on its power lines. Dissatisfied with this outcome, he recontacted EWOV on 24 January 2013 and an Investigation was raised.

The Investigation

EWOV considered the content of Electricity Industry Guideline No. 11 – Voltage Variation Compensation, other laws and codes and the customer service performance of the electricity distributor – specifically its handling of the customer’s claim and information about the supply variation event prior to raising a complaint with EWOV. We also reviewed whether the company had provided the customer with timely and accurate information about an anticipated supply restoration timeframe and voltage variation event.

The Outcome

Although it was confirmed that the electricity distributor was not liable for the damage to the customer’s appliances, it assisted the customer with documentation and guidance to make a claim with his home insurer. To facilitate the resolution of the complaint, the company also offered to pay the customer’s home insurance excess of up to $1,000.00 once it received substantiation that this excess had been paid. The customer was also provided with a direct contact at the company for any future queries about the supply outage event and resolution.

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