Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Disconnect rather than connect - unnecessary electricity disconnections in QLD

Is it lack of communication, lack of communication skills, pride or stupidity?

The Queensland Government has mandated that electricity retailers are not allowed to disconnect customers who phone up and ask the retailer for more time to pay a bill. Retailers are required to develop a payment plan for customers in hardship, to ensure that the retailer eventually receives it money and the customer does not loose power.

And yet, in light of these requirements, each year in Queensland, approximately three times more people are disconnected than are placed on payment plans. This was noted by the Courier Mail here.
The large number of disconnections suggest that consumers are unaware of their rights, but whose responsibility is it to let them know?

While it would be easy to suggest that electricity retailers and/or Government should invest more to inform consumers of their rights, surely there should also be a requirement on a consumers behalf to fess-up when they are having trouble paying their bills.

Disconnections happen because consumers (including myself) put their head in the sand and hope the problem will go away rather than communicating with their retailer. In this instance, a consumers' lack of communication skills may be causing that consumer considerable hardship.