UTILITIES DISPUTES CASE NUMBER 32984
Outcome     Recommendation - upheld

The Complaint

Mrs A complained she had not received a bill from her retailer since becoming a customer five months earlier. She said she moved into her property in May 2011 and called the retailer to create an electricity account for the property. She said between May and September 2011 the retailer did not send her an electricity bill and she worried she would receive a large back bill. She said she called the retailer several times between May and September 2011 to ask for a bill.

The Outcome

The parties were unable to settle the complaint between them and asked the Commissioner to recommend a settlement.

After the EGCC contacted the retailer about Mrs A’s complaint, the retailer created an electricity account for her property. The first bill sent in sent September was a low estimate. The retailer then read the meter and in October sent a back bill for $1,697.72.

The Commissioner upheld the complaint and recommended the retailer reduce the back bill by 40% after the prompt payment discount and apply a $150 customer service payment to Mrs A’s account.

The investigation showed Mrs A’s property address was incorrectly recorded on the electricity registry. The electricity registry is a database of all Installation Control Points (ICPs) in New Zealand. ICPs are unique identifier numbers for a property. For a retailer to supply a property with electricity, it must request the correct ICP and address combination from the electricity registry.

Mrs A’s actual address was 976A X St, but the address recorded on the registry was 980 X St. The registry had the correct ICP but the incorrect address. Therefore the ICP and address combination the retailer had been requesting was incorrect, so the requests were declined.

The Commissioner found the retailer did not handle the establishment of Mrs A’s electricity account appropriately because it:

  • Failed to recognise the address of Mrs A’s property was incorrect on the registry
  • Failed to bill Mrs A for electricity use at the property for four months
  • Sent a bill based on a very low estimate, followed by a large back bill

The Commissioner found the retailer should have recognised the address was incorrect earlier because:

  • Mrs A called the retailer at least 10 times about her electricity account before the retailer created a bill
  • The retailer had five switch requests rejected before it requested the correct ICP and address combination
  • Another retailer asked Mrs A’s retailer twice to request the property with the correct ICP and address combination

Both parties accepted the Commissioner's recommendation.