Contact Energy proving uncontactable

Customers are resorting to Twitter and Facebook to try and get in touch with one of New Zealand's largest electricity companies.

The Press received more than 35 emails from unhappy customers after reporting on call centre delays at Contact Energy a week ago.

Contact Energy corporate communications manager Shaun Jones said the root of the issue was a new computer system.

The company replaced 20 old computer systems with a single integrated system at Easter, he said.

''As with any significant change it has caused some delays as our team works to get everything back up to speed.''

Andrea Cowles, of Invercargill, said she had experienced delays of up to 40 minutes and the company's bill waiting time was also driving her mad.

''I have not had an electricity bill since March. I have phoned four times over the last six weeks, only to still have no resolution,'' she said.

''Their whole system sucks. Customer care? I do not think so. All I want is a bill so we do not get lumped with a bill of $1000 or more for the months we have not been charged,'' she said.

''Apparently according to the team leader I was speaking to . . . there are thousands of us currently not getting billed. It is just ridiculous. I have had a gutsful.''

Wellington man Leigh Clements also had ''quite an experience'' with Contact Energy trying to sort out an overdue bill.

Clements said he got two different messages when he tried calling. One said, ''Please hold'', which he did for about 30 to 45 minutes, and the other one ''implied they were too busy''.

''[It] told me to call back later. I got this one on about four separate occasions. I tried contacting them twice by email [with] small success. Attempts via Twitter did not get me far either," he said.

''I contacted them about 10 days before the bill was due, but still got a 'final notice' letter despite the calls, emails and Tweets in the week and half previous.''

Christchurch woman Amanda Lockhart spent three weeks trying to get in touch with Contact Energy after moving house, all because she needed a new account number for online banking.

The issue was resolved last week, but Lockhart said this was only after she resorted to leaving a message on the company's Facebook page.

Jones said power and hot water outages for Auckland customers following the city's recent storm had also contributed to call centre delays.

''The time taken to answer calls has fallen over the past month and we are working hard with additional resources to further improve this for our customers,'' he said.

''We apologise to all affected customers for the inconvenience caused. We have delayed the bills as we picked up some issues as part of the regular quality checking we undertake prior to sending them,'' he said.

He said only a small proportion of the 400,000 bills sent out each month were affected.

Customers would not be penalised as a result of Contact's delay.

The Press