£100 compensation is not good enough

JUST £100 for our misery – it's not enough.The reaction from many of 24seven's customers who were plunged into darkness – and remained there for days – is one of outrage (see left).

By Tracey Sparling

JUST £100 for our misery – it's not enough.

The reaction from many of 24seven's customers who were plunged into darkness – and remained there for days – is one of outrage (see left).

Today, 24seven's managing director Alan Carey said compensation will be in the form of £100 cheques – for everyone left without power between October 27's storm and 10pm on October 31.

That sum represents two years' income from a domestic customer, he said.

"We receive about £50 a year from other supply businesses, for using our network. We feel this is reasonable in the context of the storm, which was way above the storms we normally expect to deal with."

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Customers pay electricity bills to suppliers, such as TXU or British Gas. A proportion of this money is given to 24seven to maintain the network, some of it to generators who make the electricity while some is retained by the supplier to pay its costs and for its profit.

"The normal compensation payments are guaranteed standard service payments which apply to normal business," said Mr Carey.

"The severity of this particular storm – which was at its worst in East Anglia – meant we would not be able to maintain normal standards of service. It was a huge event – the equivalent of a year's low voltage faults in six hours and three months' high voltage faults in three hours."

He said 20,000 people would probably claim compensation, which would cost the company about £2million, but said some will feel they were worthy of higher payments.

The company is now asking customers to write in to make a claim if they are eligible.

Mr Carey added: "We will look at each on its merits. There will be a number of people like Carole, who will still write to us and we will look at those."

He said the engineer who went to her aid was "not an isolated incident." He said extra staff had been drafted in to help with the compensation claims.

To claim compensation, write to Mr Carey at 24seven, Fore Hamlet, Ipswich IP3 8AA or e-mail stormdamage@24sevenNet.com

n 24seven said an estimated 20,000 customers without power from Sunday to Thursday would receive the £100.

At the height of the storm more than 300,000 of 24seven's three million plus customers were without electricity.

In an open letter to customers, Mr Carey said: "On behalf of 24seven, I would like to sincerely apologise to those customers in Eastern England who were without power for some days after the recent storm.

"I want to take this opportunity to reassure all our customers that we are determined to learn from this experience. We will carry out a full review and welcome input from all interested parties, especially our customers.

"The conclusions of our review and our subsequent proposals will be made public.

"We may not see storms like this again for a decade, but we want to ensure that, when we do, our customers will get the best possible response from us, especially in the provision of information to them. We can't change the weather, but we can – and will –improve how we deal with its effects."

n Praise for 24seven workers – Letters, page 8

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