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Electricity and gas

Your rights when choosing an electricity and gas provider and things to check before you sign a contract.

Your rights when choosing an electricity and gas provider and things to check before you sign a contract.

This page includes changes to the Consumer Guarantees Act that apply from 17 June 2014.

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Check your electricity and gas contract

Every energy supply company has a customer contract that outlines your rights and the responsibilities of the company in various situations. You may not be able to negotiate the content of your individual contract with the company, but you do have the right to view their contract before deciding to join that company.

If you signed up after an energy company cold-called you, either over the phone or at your door, you have 5 working days to change your mind and cancel the contract.

See Door-to-door and telemarketing sales for more information on your rights with these types of sales.

Check the consumer.powerswitch website before you choose an energy supplier. This online service lets you compare prices for electricity and gas supplied in your area. Even if you don't want to switch companies, you can compare your plan against other plans offered by your current supplier. This free service is provided by Consumer New Zealand and supported by Consumer Affairs.

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Your rights with electricity and gas contracts

Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, your energy supply must be of acceptable quality and services relating to the supply of energy must be performed with reasonable skill and care. You’re entitled to a remedy if the energy supplier doesn’t meet the guarantees set out under this Act.

From 17 June 2014, an acceptable quality guarantee in the Act applies specifically to your supply of electricity or gas.

See Guarantees for your electricity or gas supply for more information on your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

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Assistance for vulnerable or medically dependent electricity consumers

Tell your electricity and gas company immediately if:

  • you’re medically dependent and rely on mains electricity for critical medical support
  • due to your age, health or disability, having your electricity or gas disconnected would endanger your health or well-being
  • you can’t pay your bills because of financial hardship.

The Government has issued guidelines for electricity and gas companies supplying energy to vulnerable and medically dependent consumers. The Electricity Authority is responsible for ensuring companies comply with these guidelines, which cover certain things electricity and gas companies must do before disconnecting your power. This could include:

  • making sure disconnection notices include their complaints process, contact details, and any applicable fees
  • using a range of contact times and options like calls, texts, faxes, and home visits before disconnecting you
  • discussing payment alternatives and liaising with Work and Income
  • making sure no one living at the property is medically dependent.

See What happens before a disconnection on the Electricity Authority website to find out what your retailer must do before disconnecting your power.

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Got a problem with an electricity or gas contract?

The Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner (EGCC) provides a free and independent disputes resolution service for electricity and gas complaints.

Before you complain to the EGCC, you must make a formal complaint to your electricity or gas retailer or, if appropriate, the local distribution company. Make sure you use the word ‘complaint’ so the company knows you’re starting the complaints procedure. Keep letters and bills from the company. Take photos (where appropriate) and notes (to answer the 'when', 'who', 'what', and 'why' questions) as this evidence may be useful later on.

The company has 20 working days to respond to your complaint. If, at the end of this time, you can’t resolve your complaint with the company, you can complain to the EGCC. The EGCC is able to go to a higher level in the company to sort out a problem.

See Complaints on the EGCC website for information on how to contact the EGCC to talk about an unresolved complaint with an electricity or gas company.

Exemptions from the Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner scheme

Regulations may be made under the Electricity Industry Act 2010 and the Gas Act 1992 to exempt a class of electricity/gas distributors or retailers from the requirement to be members of the EGCC scheme (a class exemption). In addition, under both Acts the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs may exempt an individual electricity/gas distributor or retailer from the requirement to be a member of the EGCC scheme (an individual exemption).

Current class exemptions

From 7 August 2014, the Gas (Dispute Resolution Scheme Membership) Class Exemption Regulations 2014 exempt gas refuellers who supply less than 15kg of LPG in, or directly into, cylinders.

See Gas (Dispute Resolution Scheme Membership) Class Exemption Regulations 2014 for the specific wording of the regulations.

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How to improve the energy efficiency of your home

Many homes in New Zealand waste energy because they are poorly designed or constructed, lack insulation or use a lot of energy to heat and run. 

See Your home on the EECA Energywise website to find out how you can make your home warmer, healthier and more energy efficient.

Last updated 19 December 2014
[Internal link] Consumer law changes - Changes in consumer rights.

Consumer laws have changed

[icon] Alert. Some web pages may not show these changes yet.

See Changes in consumer rights for more information.

 

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