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Unpaid utility bill results in death of a New Zealand woman

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posted on May, 30 2007 @ 03:44 PM
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Unpaid utility bill results in death of a New Zealand woman


news.yahoo.com

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A 44-year-old woman who needed an electric oxygen pump to breathe died after an energy company cut the power to her home because of a $122 unpaid bill, her family claimed Wednesday.

Police said they had launched an investigation into Folole Muliaga's death, which happened within two hours of state-owned company Mercury Energy cutting power to her house Tuesday.
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on May, 30 2007 @ 03:44 PM
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According to the story the son told the technician that cutting the power would result in her mothers oxygen machine being cut off. But it was cut anyway. Im unaware of the prices of electricity in NZ, but is $122 alot? Here in the staes its a month or less depending on where you live. if so are they that strict with payments etc?

news.yahoo.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on May, 30 2007 @ 03:51 PM
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I heard about this on TV, what a sad story.

There are still a lot of questions. Did they call the emergency service right away? Wasn't there somewhere else her son could have taken her to plug in the device?



posted on May, 30 2007 @ 03:56 PM
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I don't know about New Zealand, but here in Ontario if I am A month late they cut me off even in the middle of winter.:shk:



posted on May, 30 2007 @ 05:34 PM
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As I understand it the Samoan mother of four had been working until 6 weeks ago when she had to go to hospital. The previously two income household lost half it's income and fell behind. They did receive a written warning, but their English was poor. When the contractor turned up to disconnect the deceased mother and eldest son took the contractor inside the house to show him her oxygen concentrator machine (Respiratory patients aren't allowed bottled oxygen at home). The son reports that the contractor shrugged his shoulders and said
"I'm only doing my job."

The contractor may now face manslaughter charges. The management might follow for not allowing any discretion. It was reported in the news this morning that just a few days before the same contractor had been sent to cut off power to an old people's home.

It has caused outrage in NZ. Up until about 15 years ago electricity was supplied by the government to municipal power companies operated by municipal governments.

In a move to bring in greater efficiencies and touted to bring lower power prices, ownership of both wholesale and retail power supply was privatised. There are now more than a dozen private power utilities in a country of only 4million people. Power prices have trebled in that time and power companies have become quite aggressive in chasing bad debt. One power company disconnects 1400 clients each month showing that problems are widespread.

Government claims to run a welfare system that will help people who can't cope, but in reality staff of the government welfare agency get bopnus payments for not advising clients of the welfare entitlements as measured by how much they can save in payments. Welfare agencies in NZ are adept at turning away struggling people.

There has been a wave of public indignation in NZ at this news story however. Many people are choosing to disconnect from mercury Energy in protest. Especially as the CEO of Mercury Energy came on TV denying that the Power company knew the mother had life threatening problems. The tearful family say otherwise and the company are perceived not only as bullies but now as liars after the fact.

[edit on 30-5-2007 by sy.gunson]




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