Customers told lines fees during April outage wiped
Vector is reassuring Auckland customers affected by power outages during the April storm they won’t be charged fixed line fees.
Waimauku resident Greg White received a bill from his power company, Trustpower, which included fixed charges over the three days his power was out.
While his fees were only about 35 cents a day, adding up to just over $1, about 222,000 properties were affected by power outages following the storm on April 10. Some properties were without power for nearly two weeks.
“This all adds up to a considerable amount of money if everyone is owed a few dollars, for something that was never actually provided,” White said.
About half of the fixed daily fee goes to Vector for lines charges, and the other half covers meter charges.
A Vector spokesman said affected customers would not be charged for fixed lines between April 11–22. The rebate was only agreed on Tuesday, so retailers wouldn’t have had time to apply it to the last bill, he said.
“This customer’s bill will almost certainly have been finalised before the details of the rebate were given to their retailer.
“Vector always intended to rebate affected customers for the outage. The difficult part was deciding how to apply this.”
Vector estimated about 220,000 customers were affected by outages in the 11 days after the storm. About 95 per cent of those had power restored within 48 hours.
White said: “It is good Vector has come to the party, but [the rebate] could have been communicated better.”
Vector’s spokesman said it was difficult to identify exact outage times, so it had decided on an overall credit amount and apportioned it to retailers: “It will be up to each retailer when and how they apply the rebate.”
The rebate would cost about $300,000, he said. It was also paying for network repairs and restoring storm-hit individual service lines. However, the rebate did not cover meter charges, which came from metering service providers.
“It is up to each retailer if and how they pass on that cost to customers.”
Trustpower general manager customer operations Fiona Smith said it would work with Vector to identify affected customers.
“Once Vector has passed that credit to retailers, we will ensure that is credited, in full, to our customer’s account.”
While it did not have a confirmed date from Vector about when this could occur, it hoped to be able to credit accounts in June.