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Genesis leaves customers cold

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Author Topic: Genesis leaves customers cold  (Read 119 times)
« on: June 02, 2009, 06:09:54 pm »

'Goodwill' credit given to blackout customers

Genesis Energy has given a "goodwill" credit to 182 people who had their power cut over the holiday weekend because of a computer malfunction.

The blackout happened when a software error meant people could not buy power on their prepay systems.

Genesis has about 10,000 clients on the prepay system, which lets people top up their power account before they use it.

Genesis spokesman Richard Gordon said 182 people affected by the power outage had received a "goodwill" credit of between $20 and $50.

The company was also considering giving people additional compensation, he said.

A malfunction on the prepay system over the weekend meant some customers could not top up their accounts and were without power from 8am to 2pm yesterday, Mr Gordon said.

The system had an emergency default setting which meant power wasn't cut on Saturday or Sunday.

But at 8am yesterday those who had been unable to top up their accounts had their power cut.

The prepay service had an emergency default setting for holidays, but it did not currently cover movable holidays such as Queen's Birthday, Mr Gordon said.

Genesis was reviewing this, he said.

Sixteen people had phoned the company yesterday to say they needed their power back on because of medical issues.

"We sent contractors out to those 16 properties and arranged to have a power supply," Mr Gordon said.

The company did not recommend people with medical issues used the prepay plan, he said.

Genesis Energy chief executive Albert Brantley said the breakdown was "hugely regrettable" and the company had apologised to those people affected.

Reports that customers were told to "toughen up" by staff were concerning, he said.

"This type of response is contrary to our customer service representative training and is completely unacceptable.

"We are investigating this report and are reviewing the tapes of conversations with customers over the weekend," Mr Brantley said.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee strongly criticised Genesis for leaving prepay customers "high and dry".

It would be different if people had not paid, he said.

"Where people are making every effort to pay for their energy... and can't because the metre somehow fouled up, then supply should not be cut at that point."

Genesis had "a bit of work to do to restore integrity in the scheme".

"I'm extremely disappointed and annoyed that these people have been left high and dry like this," Mr Brownlee said.

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