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Meridian Energy to reimburse misled customers

Meridian Energy to reimburse misled customers

Meridian Energy Limited has admitted breaching the Fair Trading Act in a letter sent to customers notifying them of changes in tariffs, and has agreed, in a settlement with the Commerce Commission, to compensate affected customers. It will also make a pubic apology to both Network Tasman and its customers.

Meridian Energy sent a letter to customers in the Network Tasman region in August 2001, which incorrectly implied to some customers that their tariff rates would increase due to a corresponding increase in charges by the local network company, Network Tasman Limited. Network Tasman had in fact reduced its rates by an average of 5%.

The tariff increase affected 175 of Meridian Energy’s customers who were previously on a special promotional rate. The reason for the increase was because the promotional period had expired.

Commission Chair John Belgrave said that in the settlement with the Commission, Meridian Energy had agreed to send an apology letter to the affected customers and to provide compensation. He said up to 119 customers will receive a rebate of between $30 to $50.

“Meridian Energy not only made a misleading representation to its customers, but may well have caused damage to Network Tasman’s reputation by inferring that it was responsible for the price increases”, said Mr Belgrave.

“By obscuring the real reason for the price increases, some customers may have been discouraged from reassessing their choice of electricity retailer”, he added.

Meridian's public apology notice will appear in the Christchurch Press and Nelson Evening Mail on Friday 31 January 2003.

Background In April this year, Meridian Energy was fined $12,000 plus costs in the Invercargill District Court for six breaches of the Fair Trading Act in relation to an offer to Comalco employees in December 1999.

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