Unable to pay a large arrears on his deceased fiancé's electricity account, Mr U is disconnected (October 2015)

Energy disconnection and water restriction, Trouble paying a bill
Case Number 2015/27247
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

The electricity at Mr U's residence was disconnected due to an account arrears of around $1,000. The account was in his fiancé's name, who had died around two months earlier. After being disconnected he called the electricity retailer and it told him it had been sending bills and warning letters, but Mr U said he had not received them. Living on a carers benefit, Mr U was unable to pay the $370 requested by the energy retailer to be reconnected. He was also unable to transfer the account into his own name as the energy retailer said he had to provide the death certificate of his deceased fiancé, which he did not have.

Dissatisfied, he contacted EWOV. Due to the disconnection we immediately escalated the complaint to an Investigation in line with our case handling policy, and we also arranged for an immediate reconnection of Mr U's electricity.

The Investigation

EWOV first had to establish whether Mr U was required to complete an Authority to Act form, signed by the executor of his fiancé's estate, as the account was in her name. EWOV found that as Mr U's complaint was about establishing ownership of the account, he would not be required to complete the form.

In order to resolve the complaint Mr U asked that the retailer accept a payment plan of $50 per fortnight, close the existing account as a deceased estate, and open a new account in his name so he could pay for the electricity. EWOV put Mr U's requests to the retailer.

The Outcome

The retailer apologised for the inconvenience and customer service issues experienced by Mr U.

After receiving confirmation of his fiancé's death from the Department of Human Services, the retailer agreed to establish an account in Mr U's name. It said that once the account was established it would close the original account, back-dated to when Mr U first informed it of his fiancé's death.

It agreed to a payment of $50 per fortnight, and applied a credit of $100 to the account in recognition of the inconvenience caused to Mr U. The retailer also provided a direct contact should Mr U have any issues in the future.

Mr U was satisfied and the complaint was closed.

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