A hardship customer's electricity is disconnected unexpectedly (February 2015)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, Trouble paying a bill
Case Number 2014/53335
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr. A was dissatisfied after having his electricity disconnected without warning on 15 December 2014. On contacting his electricity company, Mr. A was advised that the disconnection occurred due to non-payment. However, Mr. A believed he was on the company's hardship program and had been maintaining a $50 per fortnight payment plan. The company explained that he was notified by mail that this payment plan would need to increase to $85 per fortnight to account for his increased usage and outstanding arrears of $825.  The company advised that a disconnection notice was issued to Mr. A via registered mail when he failed to increase his payments. Mr. A told the company that he did not receive either of the notices prior to disconnection and that he could not afford the $85 fortnightly payments. The company advised that it would not reconnect Mr. A's supply unless he agreed to make $85 fortnightly payments.

The Investigation

Mr. A contacted EWOV on 15 December 2014 and the matter was lodged as Investigation given the customers hardship and disconnection. To resolve the issue Mr. A asked that his electricity company reconnect his supply without delay and consider reducing the payment plan to $60 per fortnight.

The Outcome

The company organised same day reconnection and advised that it had discussed the matter with Mr. A following the disconnection, and had explained that the payments he made were not in line with his actual usage. The company agreed to decrease his fortnightly payment plan to $60, as long as he reduced his usage. After three months of the new payment plan, the company would review its sustainability. It also provided Mr. A with a direct contact in its hardship team. Mr. A believed that the payment plan instalments would be manageable for him.

EWOV also reviewed the process the company followed prior to disconnecting Mr A's electricity supply. This included a Wrongful Disconnection Payment (WDP) assessment, which found that the customer's electricity supply was disconnected on 15 December 2014 at 10:04 am and reconnected on 15 December 2014 at 1:34 pm. While the company did not acknowledge it had wrongfully disconnected, it agreed to pay the equivalent of WDP ($36.46), which was credited to the customer's outstanding account balance, reducing it to $620.

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

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