If flicking on your heat pump or slow cooker in the height of winter brings you all the warm fuzzies, you’ve got Mr. Benjamin Franklin to thank for that! And really, we all owe him a pat on the back, because here in NZ electricity is considered a necessary service - it’s something that we all need in order to maintain a healthy standard of living.
But when you’re medically dependent on power to keep you alive and well, or you’re in a position that means you and your household might be at risk of living without power, that necessity takes on a whole new level of meaning. And it can be pretty darn daunting to think that your wellbeing could be in the hands of those who supply your power.
Here at Flick, though, we take our responsibility as an electricity retailer extremely seriously. While we can’t guarantee that our customers will always have power (unfortunately power cuts just sometimes happen), in-house we’re aiming for best practice in order to help keep our medically dependent and vulnerable customers safe. That means ensuring we know who those customers are so that we also know we’re doing our best to help them.
Ok, so how do I know if I’m a medically dependent or vulnerable customer?
The Electricity Authority (EA) defines a medically dependent customer as a customer who relies on mains electricity for critical medical support, and for whom the loss of electricity may cause death or serious injury (this can also include the use of electrical equipment in order to continue a medical treatment regime). If this is you, your doctor or specialist will give you a notice which states your dependency on electricity, and you’ll need to pass this on to us.
Vulnerable customers are those for whom disconnection of power at their property poses a big threat to their health or wellbeing. This can include health risks related to age, health or disability, and often it’s made worse by financial hardship which means they might genuinely struggle to pay their power bills. Make sure you let us know if you fall into this category - that way we can help!
Check out the EA guidelines for more info on what these terms mean.
I’m a medically dependent or vulnerable customer - what should I do?
First up - as we’ve mentioned above, it’s absolutely vital that you give us a call on 0800 4 FLICK and let us know. One of our awesome Customer Experience advisors will go through the process with you, and they’ll also ask you to send your documentation in to us (if you haven’t already). That way, we can make sure we’ve got you listed as such in our system. For medically dependent customers, we can advise you of any planned outages within your network so you’re well prepared.
For our vulnerable customers it means that we can work with you to find ways to make sure the power stays on at home, which includes things like payment plans.
How can I check that Flick knows I’m a medically dependent or vulnerable customer?
We’ve made a change to our Flick app and dashboard that means you’ll be able to see if you, or someone in your home, is listed as a medically dependent or vulnerable customer. It will show at the bottom of your ‘Account’ tab on the app, and your ‘My Account’ tab on your dashboard. If your household is NOT listed as medically dependent or vulnerable, it will also state this too, like so:
This gives Flicksters a way of verifying that their paperwork or information has been received by us, and that we’ve got you correctly identified. It means we can be sure we’re doing right by our customers at all times.
Hang on - I’m not seeing my medically dependent or vulnerable status on my app/dashboard. Why not?
If you can’t see any status, or the status we’ve got is incorrect, give us a call on 0800 4 FLICK or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take a look at what’s going on.
Will I be OK during a power outage?
It’s important for all of us to be prepared for a power cut. But it’s especially important for our medically dependent and vulnerable customers to have a plan in place.
Medically dependent customers need to have a plan that will give you access to some form of backup electricity, to ensure that any power cuts won’t be a risk to your health. You’ll need to chat about this with your doctor, as they (and probably your local District Health Board) will help you work out a plan should a power cut occur, which might include going to a family member’s house, or using a generator. And, of course, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider or call 1-1-1 if you’re concerned about the health of yourself or someone in your household during a power cut.
If you’re a vulnerable customer and you’re concerned about being without power for any length of time, it’s a great idea to familiarise yourself with close neighbours so that you can call on them for help if you need it. Make sure you’ve got a torch or other light source handy, as well as lots of warm blankets (especially in the chilly winter months). And, if you’re feeling at all concerned, head over to our website and find your local lines company - they’ll have all the info about what’s going on if there is a power cut.
What’s the plan going forward?
There’s some good news for medically dependent customers. Currently, the Ministry of Health is in talks with a number of electricity retailers, DHBs, and Mainpower to look at risks to our power supply, as well as ways to ensure that all medically dependent customers know what to do in the event of a power outage. Good stuff!
Can we chat?
Of course! It’s super important that if you have any questions or concerns about your power supply as a medically dependent or vulnerable customer that you let us know. We’re here to help. Just dial 0800 4 FLICK, or flick us an email at email@example.com. You can also drop us a message through our Facebook page too!