24seven customers urged to fight on

UNDER-FIRE 24seven boss Alan Carey today insisted his company's £100 compensation offer was fair while two powerful organisations urged customers to fight on.

UNDER-FIRE 24seven boss Alan Carey today insisted his company's £100 compensation offer was fair while two powerful organisations urged customers to fight on.

Mr Carey said it was decided to pay compensation for people still cut off after 10pm on Thursday – more than four and a half days after power cuts began – because by then all other power companies had completed their power restoration.

Mr Carey's defiant stance came as the government's energy regulator Ofgem linked up with watchdog body energywatch to urge customers to claim compensation quickly.

"While companies can claim exemptions from Ofgem-set standards of performance relating to loss of supply over a period of time, they can be challenged," the groups said.

Ann Robinson, Chair of energywatch, said: "Companies are clearly trying to dissuade consumers from making claims for compensation.

"Many consumers have been without power, heat and light for seven days and nights.

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"For companies to refuse to entertain claims for compensation in those circumstances is simply unacceptable."

Ofgem's Richard Ramsay added: "Any customer who believes they are entitled to compensation should make a claim.

"The fact that almost all electricity distribution companies whose customers suffered in the storms have said they will not pay automatic compensation should not deter people from making a claim.

"If they wish to do so, we would urge them to do so immediately."

Meanwhile Mr Carey stuck by the line which his company has been expounding since last Monday, the day after the gales.

"It was an exceptional event, but East Anglia suffered far more than any other part of the country," he said.

"We looked at how other companies across the country dealt with it, and by 10pm on Thursday they all said they had restored all their customers.

"We still had about 20,000 people without power so we felt it was right to pay from then."

Mr Carey said the compensation offer was significant for the company.

"We are paid just under £50 a year per customer per year to carry the electricity to them.

"So this represents a significant amount of compensation for us to find."

Normal compensation is more generous – the company will pay £50 for the first 24 hours that a customer is disconnected and a further £25 for each 12 hours after that.

"We have said this was an exceptional circumstance and therefore we are not obliged to pay the regulated compensation," he said.

However his company would consider individual claims on the merits – claims like that likely to come in from Carole Appleby of Boxford who was reconnected just half an hour before the company's deadline.

"People can still make a claim – but we have said the normal compensation rules are not appropriate," Mr Carey said.

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

N If you have an opinion on 24seven's offer then write in to Evening Star Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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