Over 60 Genesis LPG gas customers in Wairarapa, and nearly 2000 nationwide, have experienced delays in receiving their LPG gas bottle delivery in recent weeks.
This is according to a document received from Genesis Energy by a customer and seen by the Times-Age.
The Greytown-based customer, who does not wish to be named, relies on two 45kg gas bottles for heating and cooking.
She was left without gas for six days during the recent cold snap that saw nighttime temperatures in Wairarapa fall below zero.
This was despite placing an order for a replacement bottle when the first of two bottles ran out, as advised by GasNZ, the energy industry’s ‘voice of gas’.
The customer explained that five days after ordering the first replacement bottle on the Genesis mobile app, it had still not arrived.
When the second bottle ran out, she was left with no gas, and she and her family experienced several cold nights waiting for the order.
Over the subsequent six-day wait, the customer exchanged numerous emails and phone calls with Genesis customer services, the company’s disputes team, and Utilities Disputes [UDL], the independent complaints authority for utility providers.
Genesis did offer the customer an emergency bottle of gas, initially at a charge of over $200, and a day later for no charge, which the customer accepted.
This was followed by an email on the same day stating the gas would not be delivered after all.
“I thought that was really low, given it was the weekend and I was not going to be able to take any action”, the customer said.
Her gas was finally delivered the following Tuesday, 12 days after ordering her first bottle of LPG, and having gone six days with no gas at all.
According to the customer, it’s second time this winter that she has experienced a significant delay in receiving her gas order, and her neighbour has
had three orders delayed.
In a written statement, Neil Crookes, general manager for LPG operations at Genesis, apologised for the inconvenience.
“The delay this customer experienced is unusual, and it’s regrettable that an emergency bottle was unable to be delivered the day after it was requested”, Crookes said.
“We do experience more delays in winter due to weather, high demand, and driver sickness, but the majority of delays are for only one to two days.
“The delays during the week in question were driven by an influx of orders due to a cold snap. Our team monitors when orders are placed to minimise the impact of delivery delays.”
In the same statement, Crookes advised that as of 23 August, 11 customers in Masterton were awaiting delivery, and 10 have experienced a wait of only two days.
Neil Mallon, UDL’s deputy commissioner, said that of the 4500 complaints from gas and electricity customers they receive a year, between 90 and 110 relate to the non-delivery of LPG gas.
“We definitely see more complaints in the winter months”, with many of those relating to customer service and billing, Mallon said.
“I think the main reason is usage goes up, charges go up, people get higher bills, and they tend to be coming through winter when affordability is an issue.”
GasNZ chief executive, Janet Carson, explained in a written statement that since 27 July New Zealand has recorded six of the 10 largest demand peaks in history for electricity.
“This gives you some idea of the extraordinary cold snap and subsequent pressure the gas system is under at this time of year.”
Mallon said most energy retailers are “interested in getting it right”.
“If we see an issue with a company and we raise it with them, generally we see them quite often practically trying to plug that gap.”
He encouraged anyone experiencing issues with their energy provider to contact UDL.
“UDL is dedicated to sorting complaints between electricity and gas customers and all retailers or suppliers of electricity and gas”, at no charge to the customer, Mallon said.
“We can connect them with their company, write up the complaint on their behalf, or simply answer any questions they may have.
“The retailers or suppliers will be given the first opportunity to resolve the issue, and this will typically sort the problem. But if it doesn’t, we can investigate and issue a decision that is binding on them if the customer agrees with it.”