People faced with higher power bills during the lockdown need to approach their power companies to discuss payment options, Consumer NZ says.

With so many people not just working from home but spending most of their spare time there as well, there are concerns power bills could rise.

But meters aren’t being read and bills are instead being estimated during the lockdown, prompting some complaints to Consumer NZ.

Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson told Morning Report some households with older-style electricity meters and gas meters will be receiving estimated bills this month because meter readers aren’t popping round and taking readings.

They may not look right. “That’s why we encourage people to check their own meters to see what they’ve actually used for the month.”

However, they may find their power bills have shot up, because more people are working from home and colder weather requires more heating.

“If you’re worried about paying, our advice would be to contact your power provider straight away; discuss flexible payment options with it. It’s got a responsibility to help you as well as check you’re on the right plan.”

Over the last week Consumer NZ has been receiving more complaints about items ordered online not arriving within around five days and then being told by retailers the item could be delayed by up to a month.

“If you’re in this situation you don’t have to wait it out. You have got rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act to cancel your order and get your money back.”

For those doing online orders, it is worth checking with the retailer what facility the store has for returning items that aren’t appropriate, Wilson said.

There have been instances where items have broken and the warranty has expired during the lockdown.

Wilson said the good news was that the items were still covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act but shoppers may have to wait until the country moves to the appropriate alert level before returning their good to stores.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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