The contents of a $3,200 Chrisco food hamper in the customer's fridge were spoiled due to an unplanned power outage

Outages, brownouts and power surges
Case Number 2018/3754
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Ms T was unhappy that an unplanned power outage on 19 December 2017 caused the loss of a large quantity of food in her fridge. She had purchased a Chrisco hamper for approximately $3,200 and most of this food was spoiled when the outage occurred. She was without power for almost three days.  

Ms T contacted the distributor and filled out a claim form. Her claim for $3,200 was rejected on the basis that the outage was caused by a weather event. It offered her $150 as a goodwill gesture. Unhappy with this response, Ms M contacted EWOV for assistance.      

EWOV lodged an Assisted Referral. However, this did not resolve the complaint so Ms T contacted EWOV back and we commenced an Investigation. 

The Investigation

EWOV requested the electricity distributor to provide details of the outage, a history of outages at the customer’s property and notes from the assessment of Ms T’s claim.

We reviewed this information along with relevant laws and codes relating to electricity outages. We then discussed the case further with the distributor and the customer. EWOV noted that Ms T was sent a text message by the distributor to advise of the outage and she also discussed the outage with them on the phone. This was in line with the legal requirement on the distributor to advise affected customers of the nature of an outage and an estimated timeframe for reconnection of supply.

EWOV noted that, whilst continuous electricity supply is not guaranteed, there are minimum service level requirements and a penalty is payable to the customer if these are not met. There are a variety of different payments depending on the number and length of the unplanned interruption(s) to supply over the course of a calendar year. This payment is calculated annually and is called a Guaranteed Service Level payment (GSL).

We reviewed the circumstances of the outage that caused the loss of Ms T’s food and confirmed the outage of 43 hours and forty minutes was caused by weather conditions and was not in the control of the electricity distributor. However, the distributor and EWOV reviewed the outage history to Ms T’s property for the year and calculated that she was entitled to a $290 GSL payment.  

The Outcome

The distributor again apologised for the inconvenience caused and the food lost during the outage. It agreed to pay $150 in recognition of the inconvenience caused. In addition, it advised it would pay a $290 GSL payment.  Ms T accepted this outcome and EWOV closed the case.  

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