Kristine is a single mother renting in a metropolitan area and lives with her children. Kristine was disconnected by her electricity company just over a month ago but was able to be reconnected within the same day.
Immediate causes of disconnection and financial circumstances
Kristine was on a payment plan when her electricity was cut-off.
However, when she called her electricity company, she was told the company had no record of the payment plan she said she was on. Kristine was cut-off after a second electricity bill was sent to her, and she was unable to pay two bills at the same time.
Discovering the disconnection and initial response
When Kristine was sent a letter advising that her electricity would be cut-off, she called her electricity company.
She said that the person on the other end of the phone was ‘rude’ and ‘unresponsive’. When her electricity was disconnected, she had to explain it to her children when they came home from school. Her children were unable to watch the television, which upset them and Kristine.
‘One of the worst experiences for me was seeing my kids come home from school and not being able to watch TV or use anything electrical.’
Coping and getting help
After speaking with the electricity company and not getting assistance, Kristine spoke to someone at a local community centre.
The centre contacted the electricity company on Kristine’s behalf and helped sort out a suitable payment plan. Kristine was reconnected shortly after this. Kristine said the person providing assistance at the centre was great and [I] really appreciated her assistance. However, Kristine said it was unfair the electricity company did not respond to her in the same helpful way they responded to the community centre.
Kristine said that at the time of disconnection, she was not aware of any financial counselling services, payment assistance, or the Energy and Water Ombudsman.
‘The lady at the community centre spoke about how so many people go through the same circumstances I was experiencing this made me realise I was not alone but made me sad that so many others are going through something similar.’
Kristine said there is not much a person can do if they cannot pay a bill.
She was very grateful for the assistance she received from the local community centre, but said if disconnection happened again she would try and resolve the problem herself first rather than contact a community organisation or charity for assistance.