Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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56 Credit listing The processes for credit listing and amendment or removal of listings are relatively closely regulated. Our Office receives numerous complaints about credit listings. On occasion an error in the process is identified and the listing is amended or removed. However, in the majority of cases, the listing is confirmed. We cannot direct a provider to remove a listing in such a case. Case study Bill shock The complainant owned a vacant block that was originally used for mooring a recreational fishing boat that had been sold a couple of years previously. He stated that the block had a single water hose leading down to the marina where the boat had been moored. He had contributed direct debit payments for over seven years to cover potential water invoices which had never exceeded a minimal amount. His water account was in credit leading up to the period in question. Within a relatively short space of time he accrued a debt of over $5,000 which rose to over $11,000 within three months. There was clearly a leak but there was dispute as to the location of, and responsibility for, the leak. It was also suggested that attempts by PWC to stop the leak had been unsuccessful. Dispute regarding the amount of the bill continued for over a year. Our Office facilitated discussion between the complainant and PWC. Eventually, they came to a resolution with the complainant agreeing to pay a substantially reduced contribution. I raised a number of process issues with PWC including delay, failure to adequately communicate the extent of the problem on initial contact, and failure to meet with the complainant to actively pursue resolution. I suggested that PWC should look at a staged approach when unusually large bills are identified so that additional steps are taken to quickly resolve instances of grossly anomalous billing. I wrote to the Chief Executive and subsequently met with senior staff of PWC to express my concerns. They advised of a number of steps PWC had and would take to address issues of this nature. Case study Electric shock A 15 year old boy at a remote community received an electric shock as a result of coming into contact with a PWC meter box in the yard of a house. The complainant, who was the boys aunt, was able to move the boy with a piece of timber however she also received an electric shock. The boy and the complainant were evacuated to Royal Darwin Hospital and received treatment. PWC provided a response and confirmed the incident had occurred at approximately 4:45pm on 23 November 2017. NT Police attended and provided first aid and arranged for local medical treatment for both persons, who were then evacuated to Darwin via air ambulance. Between 5:00pm and 7:00pm, the local Essential Services Officer made the site safe which was then confirmed by a PWC Remote Operations Electrical Engineer. The PWC Emergency Management Team convened soon after to review the event and undertake forward planning and action setting. It was found that the mounting bolts of the pillar had been removed by persons unknown, which caused the pillar cover to move and lift up when stood on by the boy. This allowed his leg to contact the energised cables below the cover and he received an electric shock. The next day, PWC identified the location of all similar pillars on remote communities in the Territory, which were all inspected for safety and secured with tamper proof bolts.