EQC inundated with official info requests

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 06:41 16/11/2012

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The Earthquake Commission has received thousands of official information requests from Cantabrians about their damaged properties.

What many people want to know is the cost of their repairs.

But the commission insists on keeping property owners in the dark over this.

It calls this the ''costed scope of works'' and refuses to release this information to the property owner.

The EQC covers damage up to $100,000, plus GST, and has contracted Fletcher Building to manage the repairs.

''One of the common requests is for a costed scope of works, but unless a contractor has been engaged we are unable to provide this because we need to maintain a competitive market and also to get accurate price signals from the market,'' the commission said in a reply to questions from The Press.

The EQC wants property owners to ring it instead to avoid having to send them their entire file.

It admits it is failing to meet the legal obligation to release information within 20 working days. It said it was talking to the Ombudsmen's Office about this.

About 1500 requests flowed in to the EQC in the year to June, but were between February and June.

At the end of June it still had 378 to answer, and 153 of those were overdue.

But from July this year, the  EQC had fielded ''an even larger volume'', it said.

The EQC said often requesters were asking for their entire claims files when they just wanted a specific piece of information that could be provided within about 48 hours.

''We encourage customers to give us a call before they lodge an official information request and talk through their requirements so they can be sure the information requested can be provided and is actually what they want,'' it said.

"And often the call centre staff can arrange for the required information to be sent within a couple of days, avoiding the need for an OIA completely.'' 

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- The Press

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