Media release

Utilities Disputes Commissioner encourages energy customers to ask for extra help if they need it

16 April 2020

Free and independent complaints service Utilities Disputes is encouraging people to make contact if they have questions or concerns about electricity, gas, or water, and to ask for extra assistance if they need it.

"Now more than ever it’s important for people to reach out and stay connected," says Mary Ollivier, Utilities Disputes Commissioner. "If you are facing financial hardship, or you are experiencing other vulnerabilities such as your health, disability, or age, contact your energy provider and ask them about the extra assistance they have in place. Also check their websites for information about COVID-19, including alternative payment options for those who don’t pay bills online."

Ms Ollivier says during times of stress and hardship, access to free and independent services is even more vital. The Utilities Disputes team is here to help, and we welcome calls, emails, or online enquiries through our website.

"We have received an increasing number of calls recently, many related to COVID-19 including questions about bills and payment options. The Utilities Disputes team can help clarify issues, talk through the options available, and guide people to the right place - whether that be a community or government agency, or a utilities provider. On most occasions we can help resolve issues quickly, in part due to energy providers being forward thinking in putting in place options to reduce confusion and hardship," says Ms Ollivier.

"Supporting customers is top of mind for providers. Many have contacted their customers directly and are going over and above ordinary customer service to assist those who might be struggling." EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) has also provided some tips to save on bills by reducing energy use in the home.

"The health and wellbeing of New Zealanders is the highest priority and the response from the sector reflects that," says Ms Ollivier. "We have a great team at Utilities Disputes, all currently working from home ready to listen, ask the right questions, look into the issue, or connect you with the right support. We’re here to help."

Contact Utilities Disputes: 0800 22 33 40 info@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz See: www.utilitiesdisputes.co.nz

Media contact: Zoe Priestley z.priestley@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz