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Research report
Updated 7 May 2020

Power companies and telcos: What they’re doing during the lockdown

Find out what companies are doing to help customers.

Whether you’re glued to the couch watching Netflix, homeschooling the kids or video-conferencing colleagues at all hours, you’re probably churning through more power and internet data than usual. For many of us, that means bigger bills.

We’ve asked companies to step up and help customers who are struggling financially at this time. We’ve called on them to:

  • drop late-payment fees
  • put debt collection on hold
  • stop disconnections.

Here's what the big five power companies and three major telcos told us they’re doing.

Power companies

Contact

  • Charging late-payment fees? No, provided customers get in touch before the payment due date. But customers on plans with “prompt-payment discounts” may lose the “discount” if they don’t pay by the due date.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? No.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? Not during level 4.

Genesis

  • Charging late-payment fees? No. But customers on plans with “prompt-payment discounts” may lose the “discount” (5 to 15%) if they don’t pay by the due date.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? No.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? No.

Mercury

  • Charging late-payment fees? Waived if customers let Mercury know they’re financially affected by Covid-19. But customers on plans with “prompt-payment discounts” may lose the “discount” (10%) if they don’t pay by the due date.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? Not if customers let Mercury know they’re financially affected by Covid-19.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? Not if customers let Mercury know they’re financially affected by Covid-19.

Meridian

  • Charging late-payment fees? No.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? No.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? Meridian will work with customers to ensure power isn’t unfairly disconnected because of unpaid bills.

Trustpower

  • Charging late-payment fees? No. But customers may lose the 15% “prompt-payment” discount if they don’t pay by the due date.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? No.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? No.

Telcos

Spark

  • Charging late-payment fees? No, waived for 60 days from 23 March 2020.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? Yes, if all other avenues have been exhausted.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? No, customers experiencing hardship during the pandemic won’t be disconnected.

Spark is waiving overage charges for customers on capped broadband plans.

Vodafone

  • Charging late-payment fees? Only waived if customer applies and is approved for hardship relief. Waiver is for 6 months from March 2020.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? Only stopped if customer applies and is approved for hardship relief. Period is for 6 months from March 2020.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? Only stopped if customer applies and is approved for hardship relief. Period is for 6 months from March 2020.

Vodafone has removed caps from capped broadband plans until the end of June 2020.

2degrees

  • Charging late payment fees? No. Fees are being waived until the end of June 2020.
  • Sending debts to debt collectors? Yes, if all other options have been exhausted.
  • Disconnecting customers for non-payment? 2degrees says it “will do what we can to help [customers] stay connected”.

2degrees is providing unlimited data until June 2020 to any customer on a limited data plan.

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Support needed for consumers in financial hardship

The Covid-19 lockdown means hundreds of thousands of Kiwis face having to survive on a reduced income. We’ve joined with 14 other organisations in calling on essential service providers to do the right thing and halt disconnections, waive late fees and pause debt collection.

Learn more

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