Despite assurances from the Government that electricity companies would adhere to a new set of guidelines before disconnecting consumers, Meridian continues to disconnect consumers as it has always done.

It's notice of disconnection shows no evidence of a new 'consultative' era - in fact, its the same terse notice of disconnection that they have always sent out.

The consumer has ten days to pay the bill or gets disconnected. And Meridian add another five dollars to the bill - apparently this is a 'service fee'.

There's the usual brief statement that if people are having problems paying the bill they can contact the 'Customer Service Team'.

Otherwise, there's no evidence at all that Meridian have taken on board the new guidelines.

According to the guidelines, power consumers are supposed to advise consumers of assistance available from government and community agencies. They are supposed to take steps to identify vulnerable consumers and consult with the Ministry of Social Development before disconnecting a consumer - at no time during this process can Meridian disconnect a consumer.

There is no evidence that Meridian are doing this.

To add insult to injury Meridian, who made a $104.5 milion profit for the year ended 31 December 2006, has just announced yet another price increase. An average bill will increase by $6 a month as from 1 September.

Any socially responsible Government would rein in Meridian - unfortuately, we don't have such a government.

We'll be following the journey of this specific disconnection notice and will report on the results.


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