Andrew's story: seeking compensation
Customer seeks compensation for appliance damage
Andrew’s house experienced a power outage that lasted 45 minutes. After the outage, Andrew's two televisions and DVD players would no longer work. He took them to a repairer who said they could not be fixed.
Andrew lodged a claim with the electricity distributor for $1,500 to cover the cost of replacing his appliances. The distributor denied his claim on the basis that the outage, which was caused by a car hitting a power pole and bringing down the lines, was outside their reasonable control.
Andrew was not satisfied with their response and asked EWON to review their decision. Andrew said he disagreed with the distributor’s assessment of the outage, as he believed it was caused by a storm. He said the repairer had also advised him that the damage was due to a storm.
EWON contacted the distributor and obtained their records relating to the incident with the motor vehicle accident. We also obtained a weather record for that day from the Bureau of Meteorology, which indicated moderate rainfall rather than a storm.
EWON explained to Andrew that under a customer contract the distributor does not guarantee supply and is not liable for impacts of occurrences that are outside their control. As such, irrespective of whether the outage was caused by a storm or car crash, the event was beyond the distributor’s reasonable control. Given this, their denial of his claim appeared reasonable.
Nada's story: Power outage damages appliances
Power outage damages customer’s electrical appliances
Nada was at home watching a movie when a 30 second power outage occurred. She later contacted her electricity company seeking compensation of $7,700 for damage to her television, AV receiver and speakers. The electricity company advised that the outage was due to a cat entering a substation. As this event was beyond their reasonable control, they would not compensate her.
She then made a claim to her insurance company, but this was also declined as her policy did not cover loss or damage by power surge.
Nada called EWON and asked for a review of the claim decision and consideration of whether the refusal of the claim was reasonable or appropriate.
EWON reviewed the documents Nada provided to her energy company and her insurance company and then contacted her energy company for their record of the event.
EWON’s investigation found that the circumstances of the power outage were beyond their reasonable control. The company had met their requirements by having intruder resistant fences installed around the substation. On that basis, the refusal of her claim was not unreasonable.
Robert's story: network provider declines compensation claim
Power surge damages Robert’s home computing equipment
Following an electricity supply interruption, Robert’s computer, modem and printer were damaged. Robert was able to fix the printer himself and his internet provider replaced his modem, but his computer repairs cost him $176. As an aged pensioner with limited financial means, he was seeking compensation for this expense from the electricity distributor.
Robert’s claim for compensation was denied by the distributor on the grounds that the standard customer contract does not guarantee uninterrupted supply. Dissatisfied with this response and unconvinced that he could be held to a contract he had never signed, Robert came to EWON for assistance.
We explained to Robert that a deemed contract exists between the distributor and the customer supplied by that operator and that, under this contract, the distributor is required to meet certain performance and reliability standards. We advised that EWON would review his compensation claim with reference to these standards and as well as information provided by him and the distributor.
Our investigation showed that this was the only supply interruption in Robert’s area recorded that year, which indicated Robert’s network provider had satisfied its contracted service reliability requirement. Additionally, it appeared that the outage had resulted from an automated network protection operation. Because this kind of event is a normal system function and the customer contract limits the provider’s liability for damage and losses resulting from these functions, the network’s denial of Robert’s claim seemed reasonable.
We advised Robert that it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure equipment is protected from supply interruptions and fluctuations. Robert was disappointed that his claim was not awarded, but accepted EWON’s investigation report findings.