The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Customer service case studies

Further information:

Poor customer service

The customer entered into an agreement with a retailer that included receiving a 10% discount. The customer also requested the account be in her name as her late father had passed away a number of years earlier. When the customer received her account it was in her late father's name and although she had tried to resolve the issue on a number of occasions with her retailer, the retailer would only discuss the account with the account holder (her late father). The customer contacted EWOQ to obtain assistance in cancelling the contract in her father's name and retrospectively transferring her back to her previous retailer.

EWOQ investigated the issue and requested information from the retailer regarding the customer's contract. As a result of our investigation and through negotiation with the retailer, we were able to obtain agreement from the retailer to retrospectively transfer the customer back to her previous retailer. The retailer also waived the remaining bill and offered the customer a goodwill gesture of $100.

Planned outage but no advice

A customer who runs a business from home contacted EWOQ as he and his neighbours did not receive prior notice from the distributor of a planned outage. A planned outage occurs when the distributor undertakes maintenance work on an electricity line or transformer during business hours. When the customer contacted the distributor he was advised that notices had been sent to households affected by the planned outage.

When we investigated the issue, the distributor admitted that it was possible no notice had been sent to the customer or his neighbours as the map the distributor used to coordinate advice to residents about planned outages did not include their properties. As a distributor is required to provide at least two business days' notice to residential properties for planned outages the customer was entitled to a Guaranteed Service Level payment. As a result of our intervention, the distributor offered the customer a Guaranteed Service Level payment of $26.00.

What more can one do?

The customer was planning to demolish her house and had contacted her gas retailer to arrange for the gas service to be disconnected. Prior to the demolition she confirmed with her retailer that the work would take place. When the demolition contractor arrived at the property, he could not commence the demolition work as the gas supply was still connected. The customer contacted EWOQ and requested we contact the distributor to arrange for disconnection of the gas supply.

EWOQ frequently helps customers who are experiencing poor service from their distributors and retailers. In this case, EWOQ contacted the distributor and arranged to get the gas disconnected immediately, allowing the house to be demolished and work on a new home to start on time. In addition, due to the delay in having the service abolished, the retailer offered the customer a goodwill gesture of $100.

When we investigated the issue, the distributor admitted that it was possible no notice had been sent to the customer or his neighbours as the map the distributor used to coordinate advice to residents about planned outages did not include their properties. As a distributor is required to provide at least two business days' notice to residential properties for planned outages the customer was entitled to a Guaranteed Service Level payment. As a result of our intervention, the distributor offered the customer a Guaranteed Service Level payment of $26.00.

Misinformation given to a customer

After receiving emails from her retailer about alternative solar electricity plans, the customer contacted the retailer to discuss her options. She chose a new plan but only after receiving an assurance from her retailer that she would continue to be billed quarterly. After receiving a bill only one month later, the customer contacted her retailer to ask why she was receiving bills monthly and was told that she had been incorrectly advised about the frequency of the bill. The retailer apologised but said they could not change her billing to quarterly. Not satisfied with this, the customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: EWOQ listened to recordings of phone conversations between the customer and the retailer which confirmed the customer had been told that billing would be quarterly even if she changed plans. The retailer advised EWOQ that they did not have a solar plan available with quarterly billing and could not honour the commitment that had been given. The retailer apologised to the customer and offered a $50 goodwill gesture which the customer accepted. The customer advised she would review the plans on offer and contact the retailer if she wished to change.

Poor service results in big debt

Under a payment plan the customer agreed to pay $100 per fortnight towards his electricity account. The terms and conditions of the payment plan allowed the electricity retailer to adjust the fortnightly repayments in line with the customer’s electricity consumption. The customer found that an adjustment had been made to his automatic payments and he became worried that they would not meet his consumption, resulting in a large bill. The customer contacted his retailer who assured him that the repayments would even out over 12 months. In the next following quarter, fortnightly payments were increased by the retailer because payments had not kept pace with his levels of consumption and a debt had grown. Unable to afford this increase, the customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, EWOQ was told that the $100 payments had been too high and had been automatically adjusted to ensure a large credit did not accrue on his account. However the next review of the customer’s repayments did not occur until he was significantly in arrears. The retailer acknowledged that the customer had attempted to increase his payments throughout this time. The retailer provided a $150 good will gesture for the poor customer service and the inconvenience caused to the customer, and a 12 month repayment plan at $40 per fortnight to pay off the balance of $799.

Solar credits not refunded

The customer had a solar system installed on his property and was generating enough electricity to feed back in to the grid and accrue solar credits. Expecting to receive a refund for his solar credits each quarter, the customer contacted his retailer when he didn’t receive a refund in July 2013, following an earlier refund in April 2013. On contacting his retailer he was told that the refund would take 8-10 weeks to issue, however after waiting this length of time the refund was still not received. The customer continued to follow up with the retailer and on each occasion was advised there were administration issues causing a delay. This continued on until January 2015 when, frustrated with the lack of progress, the customer contacted EWOQ for assistance.

Outcome: On investigation, EWOQ confirmed that the customer had not received any refund since April 2013, despite the customer’s best endeavours to receive the refunds owing. Following repeated requests from EWOQ for the credits to be refunded, the retailer agreed to pay the customer $4,143.91 owed under the Queensland Government Solar Bonus Scheme. After reviewing the conditions of the customer’s contract, the retailer agreed to refund $100 of the retailer’s solar scheme credits, with the balance to remain in credit against the customer’s account until the end of the contract period.

Full solar feed-in tariff restored

The customer had a solar system installed and was receiving the $0.44 per kW Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff. After deciding to upgrade his system, the customer sent off the required paperwork to his retailer to ensure that he retained his feed-in tariff. Two years later, the customer received a copy of his bill and found that his solar feed-in tariff had been reduced to $0.08. On questioning this with his retailer, he was advised that the paperwork for his upgrade had not been received and he was no longer eligible for the higher feed-in tariff. The customer supplied copies of his paperwork to the distributor, but these were not accepted as they were not dated for the period when the system upgrade occurred. Dissatisfied with the outcome, the customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, the distributor advised that if the customer could provide copies of the paperwork with proof of the date on which they were submitted the $0.44 feed-in tariff would be restored. The customer obtained a fax transmission report from his solar installer showing the date on which the paperwork had been submitted and the distributor accepted this report as evidence of the documentation being submitted on time. The customer’s eligibility for the $0.44 feed-in tariff was restored and the difference between the $0.08 he had been paid, and the $0.44 feed-in tariff to which he was entitled, was credited to his account.