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August 10, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Vice-President’s Column

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Recently my flat of five people told Contact Energy to fuck off and signed up with Powershop after months of grinding our collective gears.

For the last nine months Contact Energy had been providing us with monthly power bills based on estimates, saying that we had not provided them with adequate information to access the meter. This, despite the fact they had both our door codes to get to the meter and were given them as early as January and had repeated calls telling them they have the access and giving them actual readings.

Then when we changed the names on the power account after a flatmate moved out, they hit us with a bill of $1243. After calling them to query this outrageous bill, they revealed that not only had we informed them of the access codes in January, but the PDA’s issued to their contractors are unable to display all the information.

After seven months of that you would expect Contact Energy to maybe, I don’t know, ask us to provide them readings because as a multimillion dollar company they couldn’t read six digits in a box? Even more absurd was the way they conducted their estimates of our power usage by using meter readings of our flat from a year or two ago. Meaning we were getting bills of between $130 – $150.

After numerous calls, we managed to get the bill reduced to just over $600. Our issue wasn’t that we didn’t want to pay for the power we used; it was Contact Energy’s blatant disregard of responsibility as a provider. For a flat that always paid the power bill on time and did everything we could do to provide Contact Energy access to the meter, the way Contact Energy treated us was repugnant and offensive.

Now with Powershop, we know exactly how much power we use, and can buy the cheapest power from a range of electricity providers. For next month our power bill looks to be at least $100-$150 cheaper compared to what Contact Energy was inflicting on us.

But hey what would expect from a company that decided to almost double its directors’ fees while putting prices up. No wonder Contact Energy customers dropped from 529,000 last September to 491,000.

Go sign up today, www.powershop.co.nz.

Seamus Brady Vice-President (Welfare)
wvp@vuwsa.org.nz

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Comments (11)

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  1. Hey Seamus – great column, sorry to hear about your poor service experiences though. Unfortunately your experiences are all too common in the power industry. You could (perhaps?) forgive a company for not being able to gain access to your meter (once!). But such poor treatment of a customer is disrespectful and unforgivable.

    One of the real benefits of Powershop is that you can take much more control over your power usage and cost. As you have noted, the ability to enter your own meter reading ensures that you have an accurate understanding of how much your power is costing you (whether or not your power company can get access to your meter).

    There are many other benefits of Powershop, including getting some of the best available power prices. If any of your readers want to give Powershop a go, they can signup here http://www.powershop.co.nz/promo/join and we’ll put a $50 credit on their account to get started (until 28 August 2009).

    Regards,

    Ari Sargent (Chief Executive, Powershop).

  2. Johnson says:

    I’ve been with Powershop for just over a month. Its the best!

  3. uhh says:

    what the fuck is up with you giving free advertising to powershop….

  4. Gibbon says:

    Yeah, what the fuck. That’s wrong on so many levels, dude.

  5. Freya says:

    I’m with Seamus on this one. Students deserve to know about a good service if you can get it. I live with Seamus and can’t believe how much Contact Energy has ripped us off. I think it’s fair enough that Seamus use his column to draw attention to this, as Contact are probably ripping off heaps of other Vic Uni students too. I’m sure Seamus will be more than happy to retract the above sentiments if Power Shop start acting the way Contact did. However, it is a valuable thing for students to know that Power Shop is there, so that they can save money (as well as sending a clear message to Contact that that sort of behaviour is not on).

  6. Seamus says:

    The amount of money students spend on power, especially in winter is a valid issue and one that often has flow on effects on other aspects of their life.

    I see the most extreme cases each week sitting on the Hardship Committee as well as the not so extreme when giving out food parcels to students and the position high power bills put them in.

    To not highlight one of the most student friendly power options and the (questionable at best) actions of a major power provider because it could be deemed as ‘free advertising’ would be wrong and be doing a disservice to VUWSA’s members.

    And yes I would be more than happy to retract my comments in this article if in the future Powershop turns foul.

  7. Gibbon says:

    Okay, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt then, even though you mention nothing in your piece about more general issues, instead choosing to focus on very specific (and I suggest, vindictive) examples.

    I challenge you, Seamus, to state publicly here that you received no incentive or payment or any kind of benefit from Power Shop for writing this article. Can you do so?

  8. Dad says:

    Oy! Get back to fuggin bed, Gibbon.

  9. Seamus says:

    I can confirm that I haven’t received any benefits for writing this article. Any ‘benefits’ I’m seeing now (such as not being charged a daily usage levy – instant saving of $30 per month) would have happened even if I hadn’t written this article. It’s a benefit anyone who is with Powershop gets, something that most students would benefit from.

    I thought of, wrote, then sent this article to Jackson last Thursday morning, then forwarded it the only two public email addresses I could find for Powershop and Contact that evening. That was my first contact of any kind with Powershop as another flatmate has been handling our change over since the middle of July.

    Apologies for not making that clear, I probably should of added a disclaimer stating something to effect. If you want to discus this further come find me in my office or email me.

  10. Harold says:

    I once got “benefits” when I stayed at a B&B in Barleyshire in West Sussex. Too right. Best benefits I ever had.

  11. Gibbon says:

    Thank you Seamus for making that clear, much appreciated.

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