Complain for change: what are your rights if the power goes out?

by , Conversation Editor Energy & Home 8 November 2012
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A couple of weeks back the UK Power Network wrote to tell me that the power in our area would be cut off for essential work. The works didn’t happen on the planned day, but I was caught out two days later.

Men working on overhead power cables during sunset

When I received a letter telling me my power was being cut on Wednesday, I wasn’t too put out. I appreciate that safety has to be taken into consideration when doing essential work. And the UK Power Network’s letter clearly set out the steps I needed to take to prepare for the outage.

I did all the necessary prep – turned the cooker and computer off at the mains, reduced my fridge freezer to the chilliest setting 12 hours in advance and kept the lights off. I was ready.

The power’s off and nobody’s home

When I arrived home from work on Wednesday I was blissfully unaware that the power outage hadn’t gone ahead. I turned everything back on, put the fridge freezer back to the usual setting and carried on as normal. End of story, or so I thought.

But on Friday I returned home and was surprised to find the kitchen timer reset, the computer turned on and my fridge freezer contents a little warmer than usual.

I nipped down to my post box and confirmed my suspicions that the outage was delayed by a couple of days. I hadn’t checked my post since Wednesday, but my neighbour confirmed that the letter was hand delivered on Thursday afternoon.

I called the UK Power Networks to ask how much notice I should have had in such circumstances. The person on the phone politely apologised for the inconvenience, but said they didn’t have to provide any notice, although they do try to do so out of courtesy.

£22 compensation for failure to notify

I did a little digging with the help of our energy team at Which?. According to current regulations, you need to have at least two days’ notice:

‘If we fail to give two days’ notice or we switch your electricity off on a different day, then you can claim (within one month of the failure) £22 if you are a domestic consumer or £44 if you are a business consumer.’

I’ll be sharing that news with my neighbours – a few of whom are at home during the day and were therefore inconvenienced more than me. They ended up going through the preparation cycle three days in a row.

Are you aware that you have rights if a company issues a planned power outage? Have you ever been affected by a mistimed outage and sought compensation?

5 comments

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william

What are your rights if the power outage is due to a fault ( e.g. its not a planned outage). A couple of years ago the power was on and off several times over a 3-4 week period as the leccy company repeatedly failed to fix an issue in the general area. And we’re talking a good couple of miles affected.

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william

Seems my memory isn’t as accurate as it used to be …

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/s/2104456_frustration_as_power_cuts_hit_guildford_again

Sorry to hear your example William. You have rights for compensation whether the power interruption is planned or not, although you have to issue a complaint within three months in order to receive the compensation. The full details are available here: http://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/internet/en/about-us/documents/ukpn_nor_sep11%28internet_version%29.pdf

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william

@Charlotte, Thank you

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Hilary Bailey

I am alarmed by a much higher quote for resiting the services than given in in the UK Power Networks
information. I have asked them to recheck but if I think they are exploiting the situation is there an alternative service to UK Power Networks or a central body to complain to or is it a case of a monopoly stitching the customers up like a kipper?
Thanks for any help here. Hilary Bailey

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