Cus­tomers told lines fees dur­ing April out­age wiped

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Michael Neil­son

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.

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