Contact Energy customers are taking their business to other electricity companies in the wake of its decision to increase its prices and the pool of money available for directors’ fees.
Electricity retailers yesterday reported a flood of inquiries during the past two days from Contact customers considering switching suppliers.
Many were from the South Island.
Meridian Energy reported a 200% increase in calls to its call centre on Thursday, a pace which continued yesterday.
TrustPower had 800 callers on Thursday inquiring about changing, equivalent to the normal volume of callers it received in a month.
A Genesis Energy spokesman said inquiries through its call centre on Thursday and Friday were nearly 50% higher than forecast.
Mercury Energy began its marketing push into Dunedin at 3.30pm on Thursday and confirmed its first customer in the city at 3.33pm.
Mercury retail manager Richard De Luca said an average Dunedin household would pay $200 less a year for its electricity than it would from Contact.
I’ve never been 100% convinced about the merits of competition for utilities because of the hassle involved in changing suppliers.
If I don’t like the service or price at one supermarket it’s easy enough to go to another. Changing power or telephone companies is more complicated and usually requires dealing with call centres which I approach with great reluctance.
However, this story proves me wrong, if customers are disgruntled enough with one electricity supplier they will go to the trouble of finding another. Only time will tell if they’re better off for doing it.