A customer has her electricity disconnected due to debt and is dissatisfied with her retailer’s handling of the issue (September 2017)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, Debt collection and credit default listings
Case Number 2017/19973
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Ms H called EWOV about an actual electricity disconnection at her rental property in Melbourne’s South East. The customer lived in the house with five other family members, and ran her business from home. She received a disconnection notice for debt asking that she pay $1,200 on her electricity bill by 15 September 2017. She was in arrears of $1,630 at the time, and had made payments in the months of April, May and July, each time paying around $300.

Ms H paid $400 towards her electricity bill on the day she received the disconnection notice. She said she planned to pay the balance of $800 on 15 September 2017. However, Ms H had her electricity disconnected on 13 September 2017. On the same day, she paid $825 towards her bill. She said she called the retailer and was told that she was disconnected on the basis of an older disconnection notice. Ms H wanted the retailer to reconnect her, and apply a $250 credit to her account for food loss, out of pocket expenses (she worked from a café while her home supply was disconnected), poor service and because of the delay in reconnection.

EWOV raised an energisation request with the retailer on the same day Ms H made her complaint to EWOV. The next day, the retailer still had not reconnected supply to Ms H’s property. Ms H called the retailer again. She told EWOV that the retailer told her that the property’s mains were not switched off when they attempted to reconnect her, but they had not informed her of this. She said the retailer also advised her that her account was in credit of $350, and that it could not discuss this with her further as the case was under EWOV investigation. She said she was advised that if power still wasn’t reconnected by the next morning, she should contact EWOV again. Ms H told EWOV she was very dissatisfied and wanted to transfer to another retailer, and requested the current retailer waive its termination fee.

The Investigation

Ms H was reconnected on 14 September 2017. The retailer told EWOV there were no notes to indicate Ms H was told she had a credit on her account. The retailer said if she opted to transfer her account to another company, there would be no termination fee. The retailer said that EWOV had failed to tell Ms H her mains switch should be in the ‘off’ position in order to be reconnected, which led to the delay in reconnection. The retailer also confirmed that when Ms H called to enquire about the delayed reconnection, it told her it couldn’t speak with her about the matter due to the ongoing investigation. The retailer was concerned that there was no evidence of loss of food actually recorded.

The Outcome

The retailer agreed to apply a good faith credit of $250 to Ms H’s electricity account for food loss, out of pocket expenses and because of the poor customer service experience. This would leave her in arrears of $161.57. The retailer offered to reduce the account balance for billing up to 1 September 2017 to zero if Ms H paid $31.08 by 22 September 2017. If she failed to make the payment, the retailer said her outstanding balance would revert to $161.57. Ms H was satisfied with the offer, and EWOV closed the case.

Related content

Hot topic

Translated fact sheets (June 2017)

Getting connected and changing energy company, Energy disconnection and water restriction, Debt collection and credit default listings, Billing mistakes, Delayed and catch-up bills
We’ve been getting six of our existing factsheets translated into five more languages.
Hot topic

Having trouble paying your energy or water bill? Help is available (April 2017)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, Trouble paying a bill, Debt collection and credit default listings, High bills
In Victoria, all energy and water companies must have a hardship program to assist people who are struggling to pay their bills. Find out how they can help you.