I always find these types of situations interesting. I’ve been a Mercury Energy customer for around 5 years (since I moved back to Christchurch from Auckland). I really had no dealings with them other than receiving my monthly bill/paying the monthly bill.
After the September Earthquake, my house had a fair amount of damage which meant that I had to move out for ~20 weeks while repairs commenced. Three months into the repairs I received a phone call from Mercury suggesting that I should close my account as I hadn’t used any power and I was still receiving a monthly bill for 'access’ to it. I explained my situation and as such, my account was closed (temporary power was on while repairs were going on for the builders etc.) – That’s great customer service in terms of them contacting me, not sure why it takes 3 months of 0 rated power to trigger this however.
When it came to reconnecting power, you’d expect this to be a no brainer, right? My house was fully rewired to bring it into current day compliance and I had the meter moved outside (why wouldn’t you if you had the chance). The sparky did 99.999% of the work and I had to pay a $195.50 fee for a contractor from Mercury to come and ‘check it’. This was a very very quick job. The first bill I received included the ‘relocation fee’, plus the temporary power bill from the building company which was overdue. This left a foul taste in my mouth as I couldn’t understand why I was liable for their bill (took me in excess of 3 months to have that refunded), and for the amount of time and effort, $195.50 to ‘check’ my meter was installed properly seemed over the top.
This brings me to current day. I received a letter from Mercury a few weeks back detailing how Mercury had maintained pricing for x years and they were putting it up prices (we all have to earn a living). I’ve had a few friends talk to me about Powershop, the rewards for ‘referring’, the ability to buy power today for tomorrow, being able to login to a website to understand your usage etc. so decided to sign up yesterday.
My phone has rung a few times today from a ‘private’ number, Mercury eventually got hold of me today. They were letting me know that they had received a request from Powershop on my behalf to change. They offered me a $200.00 rebate if I was to stay. Their records indicated I had been a customer for 6 months (incorrect, clearly no history is kept when you disconnect power) and the requests to have the spelling of my surname corrected on a few occasions has been ignored). It’s not just about money, it’s about looking after the customers you have today so they will continue to be yours tomorrow. If you take a step back and look at what’s beginning to happen in Christchurch with recovery/repairs on houses, this scenario is likely to become more common. I understand the requirement to check meter installations etc. on houses (Heath, Safety, looking after the power grid), I wonder if the $200 rebate would be a better way of rewarding exisiting customers vs. trying to wave a carrot when some have decided to move away.