A 'vulnerable customer' may have real difficulty paying the bill – even just for a short time; or is likely to suffer if the power is disconnected (this can be due to age, health, or disability).
If you, or someone in your home is a vulnerable customer, we'll work with you to try to ensure your power is not disconnected when bills are unpaid. This means:
We'll try to find different payment options to make it easier for you, we'll make sure you're referred to Work and Income for financial assistance, and with your approval we can deal with an alternate contact on your behalf if there's someone else who can help. An alternate contact is someone like a family member, friend or adviser who you're happy to talk to us about your account. They're not responsible for paying your bill, but can help advise you, and talk to us on your behalf.
It's important to know that being a vulnerable customer doesn't mean that your electricity can never be cut off – but it does mean we'll work together to try to make sure it doesn't get to that stage.
Medically dependent customers
A 'medically dependent customer' relies on electricity for critical medical support – for example, supplying oxygen, and could suffer serious harm if the power was disconnected. It's important to tell us if you're either a vulnerable or medically dependent customer. In both cases, if your power connection is threatened, there are things we can do to help.
If you or someone in your home is medically dependent on electricity, we'll make sure your power is not disconnected due to unpaid bills.
If you're a 'medically dependent customer':
You need to provide us with proof of the condition (your doctor or specialist will give you the right notice). We may ask you to update your health status from time-to-time, and sometimes we may pass your contact details on to your network company, so they can let you know about any upcoming power outages, and you can have a back-up plan in the event of a power cut.
It's important to know that we can't guarantee you'll always have uninterrupted power, as outages may happen from time-to-time for all customers. Your doctor or specialist should help you work out what to do if there is a power outage. For example, this could be having batteries on hand to run your medical equipment, going to a friend or relative's house, or calling an ambulance.