A customer had difficulty in transferring money from her deceased mother’s account into her name as executor (September 2016)

Billing mistakes
Case Number 2016/10265
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mrs A was frustrated with the difficulty she experienced in transferring money from her deceased mother’s account into her name as executor. In February 2015, her mother passed away leaving a small estate, which she later found included a credit of about $2,000 in the household electricity account. As the executor of her mother’s estate, she asked the retailer to transfer her mother’s account into her name so that the credit would be applied to her account. She had also been living in the property with her mother and since her mother’s death had been paying the household’s electricity bills. She also noticed that a government concession had not been applied to her mother’s account and asked for it to be backdated and a credit applied. The retailer refused to transfer the money into her account, offering instead to send a cheque to her in the name of the estate. Mrs A didn’t want this option so contacted EWOV for assistance.

The Investigation

The complaint was unable to be resolved at Real Time Resolution so EWOV raised an Investigation.

EWOV listened to Mrs A’s personal circumstances and found she was reluctant to receive a cheque to her mother’s estate as it would create unnecessary solicitor costs. She said her mother’s estate had been finalised and any cheque to the estate would require it to be reopened and incur solicitor’s costs.

We agreed that the retailer’s offer of a cheque sent to the deceased estate was accepted practice. However, the parties were deadlocked and their communications and relationship had broken down, at a time of much emotional stress for the customer.

The Outcome

The retailer decided to work around its usual practice and offered to accept written confirmation from Mrs A that she was both the executor of her mother’s estate and that the estate was closed, in order to transfer the credit balance into her account in lieu of sending a cheque. It also apologised for the inconvenience caused to Mrs A and credited $150 to the account and provided a direct contact should she have any other concerns. Also, while the retailer did not have any record of concession details previously being provided, it backdated a 12 month concession discount resulting in an account credit of $120.65. The final credit transferred from Mrs A’s mother’s account was $1,187.78.

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