Surge appliance damage (D/96/3)

Case number: D/96/3
Date of Decision: 17 December 1996
Decision accepted by the customer: Yes

A customer contacted EIOV claiming that a power surge had damaged his central heating system and provided repair quotes for $147.90. The customer also claimed that the company had given him conflicting advice regarding the cause of the event and reneged on initial advice that it would compensate him for damage.

The customer advised EIOV that while he was covered by insurance he had not submitted a claim as he believed that the electricity company should pay his claim as they were responsible for the damage and if he did make a claim he would have to pay a $50 excess. The customer also expressed concern that the incident may have resulted from poor maintenance practices.

The customer's electricity company confirmed that there had been an interruption to the customer's power supply, however, it maintained that the event had been due to lightning and this event was beyond its control. The company therefore denied liability for the event.

EIOV conducted a detailed investigation including analysis of reports and notes from the customer's electricity company concerning the event, subsequent contact with the customer, substantiation of the customer's repair costs and independent technical advice. The technical advice raised questions regarding the cause of the event as the only information provided by the company was outage system notations. EIOV also contacted the Bureau of Meteorology, who advised that while there had been heavy rainfall in the customer's area on the date of the event, there had been no reported thunderstorms in the area.

EIOV also contacted the customer's insurance company and confirmed that he had not submitted a claim.

From the documentary and other evidence available and taking into consideration the facts of the case the Ombudsman determined that the company had failed to provide reasonable customer service and the fair and reasonable outcome was to direct the company to pay the customer $247.90.