CAPE Paterson residents are still picking up the pieces after a power surge and outage in early January, with some residents yet to be compensated for the loss of appliances.
Olga Marangio, who lives on Anglers Road, is one of the unfortunate victims from the outage on January 6.
Her home insurance company doesn’t cover power faults, and it’s up to the energy distributor Ausnet to compensate affected customers.
Olga has been left with a damage bill of at least $7500, but with Ausnet’s policy stating it will not replace products on a ‘new for old’ basis, she has been offered $3400 compensation.
She was required to have specialists test her appliances as part of her claim to confirm they had been damaged by the power surge, at a further cost of about $80 per visit.
After filling out the Ausnet claim forms months ago, Olga finally received a compensation letter on March 30, after a number of frustrating calls to the helpline.
“What really gets me angry is some people that are holidaymakers have got the money, and they don’t live there,” Olga said.
“We who live here permanently, we’re older and we haven’t got the cash that people who are working have and they leave us until the end and don’t give us any preference.
“I’m a widow, I live on a pension and I’ve got a roller door for security. The motor died, so I had to get it replaced and that cost me $1200.
“My air conditioner died and I haven’t been able to replace it because I don’t have money.
“The television, phones, dishwasher and fridge died. Somebody lent me an old fridge and somebody lent me an old television, otherwise I’d have nothing.
“Ausnet said my air conditioner is 12 years old. Unfortunately I don’t have the invoice but it’s only six years old, but if they say its 12 years old it costs them less money.”
Now Olga has accepted the compensation offer, she has no idea when she will receive the money.
“The letter doesn’t say how long it will take, but I’ve heard it take months,” she said.
“Everybody I’ve spoken to around here, they’ve got a letter but no money.
“Most insurance companies take a month or so – this one has already taken three months, because I went really crook at them.”
Ausnet’s manager of Corporate Communications Emma Tyner explained that assessing compensation claims can be complex and therefore can take time to process.
“We received Ms Marangio’s claim on January 16 and have been working with her throughout this process,” she said. After assessing the claim, we provided an offer to her in early March. The letter was resent on March 28 following a request by the customer. The compensation offer was accepted on March 30.
“When assessing and providing compensation on voltage variation claims, we follow guidelines set by the Essential Services Commission.
“The voltage variation compensation guidelines outline what must be paid for claims, as well as how long it should take to respond to customers.
“Under the guidelines, we provide compensation based on the market or depreciated value of an item.”
Olga isn’t the only resident frustrated by Ausnet’s actions. Julia Cook, who also lives on Anglers Road, received $2600 compensation from Ausnet despite her damage bill totalling $4000.
She is angered by Ausnet’s lack of care for affected residents and has taken her case to the ombudsmen.
“I’ve had no air conditioner all this year. Thank God it wasn’t 40 this summer,” she said.
“We’re all elderly here and we need it, but they don’t care.
“Six years ago my air conditioner cost over $2000, and they offered me $800 for it.”