Media Release: WANTED – Households who have been disconnected from electricity

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Have you been disconnected from your electricity supply because you couldn’t afford to pay your bills? If so, we want to hear from you.  We’re attempting to understand what households face when they can’t access the basic services we need to live.

According to Victoria’s energy regulator, electricity disconnections have increased by 6 per cent and there has been a four fold increase in the number of wrongful disconnections in Victoria.  The energy ombudsman’s latest annual report highlighted that disconnections have replaced high bills as the most frequent complaint in 2013/14, with an average of 39 cases per day on imminent or actual disconnection.

“When you can’t keep food cold in a fridge, have a hot shower, turn on the heater or cook dinner – this can have a real impact on your quality of life.” said Consumer Action Senior Policy Officer Janine Rayner.

Many consumers lose access to this essential service due largely to a business failing to comply with regulatory obligations.

“There is a very high human cost to energy businesses failing to meet their regulatory obligations,” said Ms Rayner.

Failure to offer an appropriate payment plan, not offering a Utility Relief Grant and not providing access to a hardship program when a consumer is in financial difficulty can have dire consequences.

That’s why Consumer Action is working with researchers from RMIT University to talk to Victorians about their experience.  By meeting with our researcher you can share your experience in the aim of preventing others from experiencing the same outcome. We will use the information to present to policy makers and regulators a picture of what disconnection mean for consumers.

Volunteers are needed for a confidential face to face interview with researchers from RMIT University. Participants receive a $60 Coles/Myer voucher for their involvement.

Those who want to get involved should contact Janine Rayner, Consumer Action Law Centre  (03) 9670 5088 or email info@consumeraction.org.au

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Media Contact: Michael Bellairs 03 8554 6915

Image via Bert Kaufmann

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