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YOUR NEWS, YOUR VIEWS
“HIGHLY irregular and an abuse of monopolistic
power” is how the Labour spokesman for Energy
Stuart Nash has described The Lines Company’s
(TLC) moves to shut down complaints from con-
In December, the Te Kuiti-based energy dis-
tribution company moved to alter its terms and
conditions (T&C) in order to reduce the number of
complaints it receives from its consumers.
TLC is proposing changes to its terms and condi-
tions regarding complaints from an individual or a
group that continuously complains or takes legal
action without sufficient grounds.
Although still in the submission process, the
proposed changes to the company’s T&C docu-
ment outlines its right to terminate supply to any
consumer whom it considers to “have engaged or
contributed to continued frivolous or vexatious
complaints” against them.
In such circumstances TLC will give the com-
plainant not less than three months’ notice of their
intention to terminate the contract which will then
end the supply of electricity to the customer.
The proposed change has drawn much com-
ment from within and beyond the catchment TLC
“Under the proposed definition, a customer who
complains twice about an issue that is important to
them could have their contract terminated without
any recourse,” says Mr Nash.
“I doubt this clause would stand up in a court
He has asked TLC chief executive Brent Norriss
to have the clause removed.
Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges
is encouraging customers concerned about changes
to TLC’s terms and conditions to provide feedback
to the company during the submission process.
“There are also safeguards to protect consumers
from unfair terms and conditions, including a free
and independent complaint resolution service spe-
cifically for electricity and gas complaints which
the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner
(EGCC) provides,” says Mr Bridges.
“Additionally, changes to the Fair Trading Act
1986 that come into force in March, mean the
Commerce Commission can take action if there
are potentially unfair terms and conditions in
Waitomo Greypower president Ngarie Grayson,
is one of two Greypower members invited by TLC
to join a customer service panel to comment on the
draft T&C document.
She says “it [the document] is ambiguous and
“There are a lot of areas wide open for discussion,
and I will be very interested to put them to TLC.”
Mrs Grayson says she has made representations
in the past on behalf of Greypower and TLC has
been very receptive, “but people do have complaints
and should be allowed to express them”.
The Turangi Network Action Group that advo-
cates on behalf of the citizens of Turangi and the
wider community, has labelled the draft T&Cs as
“punitive, one-sided and draconian” and says they
“have the clear intention of keeping customers in
Spokesperson Denis Greenslade says: “I want
to make it clear, I am speaking on behalf of our
members when I say this document is about what
TLC can do to us, not what they can do for us.”
Mr Greenslade and Mr Nash have called for the
names of the members of the customer service pan-
el to be disclosed in the interests of transparency.
Mr Nash has also raised questions over a state-
ment from the company’s 2015 annual report
where TLC stated that during the 2015-16 year it
would “accelerate its strategic vision with a focus
on customer liaison”, noting the company had
dropped its expenditure on this by about 20% on
the previous year.
“This is a little surprising considering the
recommendations provided by the regulatory
authorities around increasing customer dialogue
“The purpose of those recommendations is to
gain the type of customer buy-in required to miti-
gate the nature and number of customer complaints
received by the Commerce Commission, Electricity
Authority and the company itself.”
“The T&C draft document is still very much in
the consultation stage and the company welcomes
FEEDBACK: The Lines Company’s chief customer officer Elizabeth Anglesey says TLC wel-
comes feedback from customers and community groups about the company’s proposed
changes to its terms and conditions. FILE PIC
customer feedback,” says TLC’s chief
customer officer Elizabeth Anglesey.
“What appears to have been missed
by Mr Nash is the reference to our
supply obligations outlined in clause
“This refers to the Electricity Act
2010, particularly Section 105, which
very clearly states that network con-
nections from before 1993, simply
cannot be removed from the network
without customer agreement and
Clause 34 of our proposed terms and
conditions cannot change that.”
Mrs Anglesey says the company
will not make any further comment
on the proposed changes until after
the customer service panel meets in
Te Kuiti next week (February 26) to
discuss customer feedback.
The company has also requested
feedback about the document from
the Office of the Electricity and Gas
Public submissions close on Febru-
For draft terms and conditions visit
the website – thelinescompany.co.nz/
TLC proposals raise concerns
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