It’s a matter of trust

Line company Vector has been caught with its hand in the customer’s pockets and owes them over 13 million dollars in refunds.  But… it doesn’t want to do it that way.

Power company Vector is refusing to make a lump $14 million repayment to Auckland households it overcharged.

Vector admitted to overcharging its customers in a Commerce Commission decision released on July 7, after a change to the way it set prices.

The pricing change meant about a third of households in Auckland were overcharged for power between 2014 and 2015 – amounting to an additional $13.9m for Vector.

Auckland based Mercury Energy told Vector it should repay the money in a lump sum to affected households.

But instead of paying it all back at once – which Mercury estimated to be in the vicinity of $25 per home – Vector said it will set a cap on lines charges, reducing the amount of revenue it recovers over two years starting in April 2018.

“Customers shouldn’t have to wait, and they will lose sight of the money they are owed,” said Julia Jack, Mercury’s chief marketing officer.

“It is actually the customers’ money and it would help them with the current winter chill,” Jack said.

Affected customers were in Auckland’s CBD, Avondale, Mangere, Papakura and eastern suburbs.

Mercury wants Vector to accelerate the repayment and offered a solution help to make that happen.

“Mercury wants to work with Vector to have the $13.9m released to all retailers so the amount could be applied to energy costs via a rebate,” said Jack.

“From Mercury’s perspective we’ll ensure that our customers get every cent passed through from the Vector refund.”

To give confidence around distribution of the payment, Jack said Mercury would have the rebate externally audited and would make that report public.

“To be doubly sure, we’ll top up the amount by 5 per cent to Mercury customers if Vector hands over the cheque in the next 30 days,” said Jack.

Vector has rejected the offer.

The whole thing sounds a little dodgy.  Are Vector going to up their prices for customers that didn’t overpay?   What if people paid megabucks back in the day and they’ve installed insulation since?  They won’t get their proportional share.

Stop dicking around Vector.  Cut a cheque and provide a spreadsheet of all the clients and the amount owed.


– Stuff

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.