206 thoughts on “Brickbats

  1. Roy

    Hi! I’m in Manukau with Genesis Energy, and on Classic Composite plan of 0.1788 cents + GST (0.20115 inclusive), with daily fixed charge of 0.3333 cents + GST (0.37496 inclusive). Assuming just 20 units per day consumed, this is already better than any deal I can find here! Genesis rate is a standard, non-negotiated rate, so HOW is your ‘special new way’ system actually better than what’s already out there as a normal rate from long-established electricity retailers? If I use more than 20 units per day, I’m CONSIDERABLY better off than by using your plans?

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  2. Roy

    Oh, and when working out the above, I FORGOT to take into account my 10% prompt payment discount! Your consumption comparison chart is just plain WRONG!

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  3. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Roy:

    Firstly, we do stand by the results of our savings calculator.

    The rates you quote from Genesis differ from the published tariffs on their website. It appears that from 17 May 2009 your prices will be increasing.

    The Classic Plans appear to a ‘low user tariff’ with daily charge 0.33c/day + 20.59c/kWh (excl GST) or 37.5c/day + 23.16c/kWh (incl GST). After 10% prompt payment discount these drop back to 33.75c/day and 20.85c/Wh.

    When comparing your current power costs with those of Powershop you need to also factor in the seasonal variation in prices. Powershop prices will be higher at this time of year than in the middle of summer. We aim to deliver savings over the course of the year.

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  4. steve

    This is the first summer we have had for a few years where there hasnt been a looming ‘power crisis’ with very high spot prices.
    How would the prices you offer this year, with lower nationwide demand due to the recession and plentiful hydro storage, compare with say this time last year, that is if you were offering your product then?

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  5. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Steve:

    For our Standard Power products we purchase electricity contracts through the wholesale contracts market (EnergyHedge) 6 – 12m in advance to ensure that current market conditions (good or bad) do not have too much influence our cost or supply. All retailers will adopt similar risk trading approaches.

    We aim to cover around 80-90% of our expected sales. This means that short term conditions have a little influence on pricing of products, but importantly it also means that if market conditions are extreme (such as last year) our customers are largely protected. This of course means that in good times customers will see a little (but not a large) reduction in prices.

    That said, longer term trends will have an impact on the wholesale contracts market. The current economic conditions have reduced growth in electricity demand which is putting downward pressure on prices.

    I wouldn’t like to speculate on a quantum difference between last year and this.

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  6. steve

    .. wouldn’t like to speculate on a quantum difference between last year and this…

    This the whole basis of PS, speculation. Its encouraged by buying in advance etc.

    there doesnt seem to have economic rationality to saving $100 per year ( for my usage, area etc)over the current price Im paying. Yes it may seem cheaper now , but individuals cant beat the system, the dice arent loaded that way.
    I seem to remember we had a lot of suppliers 10 years ago who were squeezed out when prices began their relentless rise, and as I sure will happen here some buyers will find winter contracts only offering prices well above the current standard price contracts, and as PS gets larger and has to buy bigger blocs of power this will effect market price, it has too

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  7. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Steve:

    What I didn’t want to sepculate on is what last years prices would have been. We have contracts in place for expected sales this winter and beyond, so we are confident we can deliver the savings predicted by our savings calculator.

    The economic rationale underpinning the savings delivered to customers are:

    1. Most customers are not currently on the cheapest available tariff in their area. The simplicity of our offering makes this transparent.
    2. We are an online retailer. We do not have the same cost structure as existing retailers. We do not send out bills, and customers can ‘self-serve’ in relation to billing and metering issues that drive most calls to retailer call centres. We are merely bringing to electricity what the internet has already delivered to banking, travel, books, music and many other industries.

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  8. Tony

    I have no understanding of historical electricity prices and so I dont know if prices are high or low at the moment… Do you have any links to graphs of electricity prices going back three years or so – I would like to study the price action and seasonality so that I can make better judgement on when to buy and price trends in the future

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  9. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Tony:

    Unfortunately the electricity industry is not great at providing information of use to residential consumers. There are a few links you can have a look at. The information is all available here, but not formatted in a way that is particularly easy to use:

    1. EnergyHedge – the wholesale contracts market (this is probably the most relevant price to track).
    2. Electricity Commission Wholesale Statistics (up to June 2008) has a chart of pricing information.
    3. Comit – free to air has more recent electricity market information.

    Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I hope you find these links of some use.

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  10. Tony

    Yip you are right those links were not very helpfull.. just more confusing really.. perhaps your company might want to produce some better more rellevant information for your customers ?

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  11. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Tony:

    Yeah, we’ll certainly try. We will at least be providing some historical information about prices within Powershop – when we have enough history to make it worthwhile.

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  12. Tim

    Hi, I’m a customer of PowerShop for the last couple of weeks and so far I’m not that impressed with the savings. I believe PowerShop is fatally flawed not pricing day and night rates separately, instead using the historical usage to determine a day/night ratio which is then factored into a single unit cost.
    Before I signed up I used your calculator and it came back with a saving of around $200 for the year as an average user, and $400+ if I was a heavy user. This was the reason I signed up. After feeling a little disappointed with the current cost of my electricity I went back to have a look at this calculator and expanded the details. Doing this (and looking in your FAQ’s) I noticed that it assumes a 60% day 40% night split. I suspect this ratio was determined by someone in the North Island, as down here in Christchurch in winter the large majority of our power is at night (for me it is currently 23% day 77% night). Granted, in summer the ratio is probably more like 60% day and 40% night, but as the majority of my power is consumed in winter, I would expect over the whole year the ratio would at least by 40% day and 60% night. Given that my night rate with meridian was 11.90cents and day rate of 26.88c / KWh this would give a unit rate of 17.89c (given daily charges are pretty close to the 10% prompt discount I will ignore those 2 factors). The rate I was quoted on your calculator for my current electricity was 20.74c, quite a difference.
    Now even more astonishing with this savings calculator is the rate that I will get from PowerShop. In the quote is shows 17.38c per unit – sounds good. However when I look into my powershop at the moment, the absolute CHEAPEST rate I can get is 17.62, with the standard power at 18.32!! And this is after I have already emailed questioning my shop rates and managed to get them reduced (you were basing them on a 40 / 60 day/night split but now have them on 23/77).
    So I would be very interested to see how you can base you estimates on a figure that seems totally unobtainable? The argument that the rates will drop in the spring and summer doesn’t hold, as for me using cheap night rate electricity during winter, my rate should be cheaper in winter than summer so now should be as good as it gets! (for example using my old Meridian bills, my average unit price in summer was around 19c)
    All of this confusion and murkiness can be attributed to the simple fact you have tried to mask day and night rates, rather than simply sell products for the day meter and for the night meter separately. I think PowerShop is really lacking transparency because of this, in trying to simplify things, you’ve actually made the model quite flawed.
    I am still a customer with PowerShop as I am still hopefully they will offer value for money and as they are a new company I’m willing to give them a chance. Surely as a startup you should be offering super cheap rates now to entice customers in and get good word of mouth, and then level the prices out in 6 months time?
    So if I don’t see an improvement in the unit prices (or the way you charge for day and night), I suspect I will be switching back – Powershop will just not be worth the hassle.

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  13. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Tim:

    Thanks for your feedback. Sorry you do not feel you are getting the savings you expected, and that you feel we lack transparency. We are striving to deliver both to customers.

    The basis of our pricing is simplicity to allow customers to easily compare the prices of different products. We feel it would add complexity to sell day and night products separately that would create even more confusion for customers. Such developments may come in the future, but for now we need to focus on making that ‘point of sale’ comparisons and transactions really really easy.

    That said, one development we do have planned is to display the day/night split of pricing to customers who want to see it for all products. That is, for any product you will be able to see the day price and the night price itemised (we will also do the same for controlled/uncontrolled pricing).

    We will soon be putting spring/summer products on the shelf. Perhaps when you see the prices of these you will be able to validate your estimated savings.

    As to your suggestion of offering super cheap rates as an enticement. We are happy to, and have offered various signup incentives, we also think we have some pretty competitively priced products ($50 power for free, discounted winter products, and short term promotions). However, we are reluctant to have pricing now that cannot be sustained. We do not want to entice people in with low prices, only to turn around and shaft them 6 or 12 months later – everyone would justifiably get grumpy at that.

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  14. Robert

    I tend to agree with Tim, I am inthe process of siging up and got very vague answers about night and day rate.
    For simplicity it would be great to be able to buy power at a night rate or a day rate and then it would force me to change the way we use appliances to make the most of that cheaper power.
    99% of people on night and day would have done so because they are intelligent enough to work out the savings by doing so, then that would also mean they will understand your pricing if you made power available to purchase on either a night or day rate and then use that power accordingly.

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  15. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Robert:

    We may consider this at some stage in the future, but we are really keen on teaching people to walk before they run. We do intend to provide more information about the costs of day and night power, but we are not in favour of developing separate products at this stage. We are also considering products that take advantage of smart meters that will save customers money.

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  16. Wendy

    Today after updating my meter reading the following information appeared:

    Before After

    Units used since last… 336 369
    Available balance 450 367

    Can you please explain the 50 unit discrepancy in the available balance shown?

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  17. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Wendy:

    This one certainly had us scratching our heads for a while! The upshot is that it is correct, albeit confusing.

    What has happened is this:

    Before you updated your meter reading:
    Your balance of ‘everyday power’ was sufficient to take you through to the start of July. In this situation we add any July powerpacks (of which you have 50 untis) to your current balance because the powerpack continues on directly from your everyday power balance.

    After you updated your metering reading:
    Because your unit balance is actually a little lower than we projected (and your daily consumption a little higher) your current everyday power balance no longer lasts through until July. In this situation we do not add your July powerpacks to your current balance because there is a discontinuity.

    So the 50 units has not gone missing, it is just no longer reported as part of your current balance. It will reappear if you make a purchase that carries your everyday power through to July, or on 1 July if you do not purchase more.

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  18. Steve Withers

    I’m shifting house and have a some feedback for you about the online process.

    1. The system doesn’t allow a moving from date more than a month in advance. In my case, we take on the new house 3 weeks before we shift in, so I’m not able to give you much notice about the need to have power there in our name in just over a week. I would like to give you more notice.

    2. I’m not able to buy credit for the new house, or transfer credit from the existing house. I’m told my use at the new house will be substracted from credits transferred over. That’s fine, as there won’t be much use there until we shift in. But it would be nice to have access to both until you do your reconciliation.

    These are minor issues, but I offer them as constructive suggestions for your consideration.

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  19. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Steve:

    Thanks for the feedback. We had not anticipated a situation where a mover would actually need to access more than one property at the same time – we had seen the moving process as sequential. Customers eh? Who knows what they will do?

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  20. My name is in my email address

    I have not received a satisfactory explanation from your customer service centre so I am putting this matter into a public forum. I am loathe to do this, but if customer service can’t or won’t help me I have to do something to get your attention.

    After 34 days with your company I entered a second meter reading, and my average consumption rose from 6.6 units/day to 7.3 units/day. I would expect my unit balance to drop by 34×0.7, or 23.8 units.

    Instead I got a yellow box saying that, as a result of entering the meter reading, my unit balance had dropped by 218 units (I have a screen shot of this, which I included with my email to customer service).

    Obviously I am most unhappy about this and I want to know what’s happened to the missing 194.2 units.

    Furthermore, when I look at the “Products Purchased” page my power pack for June (200 units) shows nil remaining, when I’ve only used about 139 units so far this month. Yet the “Monthly Power” report shows no expired units.

    Looking at it another way, since joining Powershop I have purchased 1030 units and used approximately 248, so I should have a unit balance of approximately 782. Yet my current unit balance is 527, a discrepancy of approximately 255 units.

    As far as I can see none of the figures stack up. There may be a rational explanation for all this, but I cannot find one. I am one seriously unhappy customer, and I look forward to hearing from senior management.

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  21. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Unhappy customer:

    Firstly, let me apologise that you have not received a satisfactory explanation from our customer service staff. In their defence, this issue is a little complicated.

    We agree it would have been better if we could have resolved your concerns “in private”, but in the interests of transparency and to assist other customers who have a similar issue I have published your post and our response.

    No power has disappeared from your account, if you check the “Products Purchased” page under “My Account” you will see all of the products there.

    The issue is this. When we calculate your “available” balance we include all units (including powerpacks) from today that cover a continuous period. If you have powerpacks beyond this date that are not considered “available”, although they still sit in your account for use when they become active.

    In your case, before you updated your meter reading you had units to cover a continuous period from now until the end of September.

    When you updated your meter reading, you daily usage increased by just enough to mean that the units in your powerpack for August don’t quite cover the full month. As a result your powerpack for September is no longer included in your available balance, resulting in the larger than expected drop.

    So, bottom line, the “missing units” are still in your account for future use, they are just not being counted in your available balance.

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  22. My name is in my email address

    Credit where credit is due: a senior Powershop person contacted me an hour or two after I posted the above entry and provided a full and satisfactory explanation of the apparent discrepancies.

    It’s not a system fault, rather it’s a matter of Powershop having (understandable) difficulty in presenting complex, multi-stranded data. Additionally, this is the second known case of this particular situation arising so it’s a rare bird.

    That is why customer services did not provide an adequate response to my initial query, and I’m told that they have since been trained in dealing with this.

    There have been some minor and understandable failings by Powershop in this case, but I am satisfied that this is part of the learning curve involved in providing a world-first system.

    Those minor failings are far outweighed by the rapid, personal, high-level response I received, which in my experience is an unprecedented reaction from a corporate dealing that is with Joe Bloggs.

    Additionally, it looks like Powershop is genuinely responsive to suggestions for improvement.

    I am once again a happy customer.

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  23. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Pete:

    We do not seek to pass on wholesale market risk on to our customers – this is a misunderstanding. We offer retail products for sale along with a commitment to save most customers money. It is possible to take a simple ‘set-and-save’ approach to Powershop, that offers our customers a better service for a lower cost.

    Our customer numbers are currently around 2,300, which is pretty much on target. We are happy with our progress, and industry commentators such as Energy News also consider this impressive growth.

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  24. Ken

    Just recently joined Powershop having moved from the UK (where we don’t have this archaic daily standing charge) so you only ever pay for what you use.

    @Pete, think your rather missing the point if you think Powershop ‘business model’ passes on the market risk to the customer – this presupposes that energy companies themselves actually offset any price rises in wholesale energy when they sell it on to retailers. Well how many power companies have lost money, even during this credit crisis… if wholesale prices rise, power companies will adjust prices such that they break even.

    Wasn’t there a consumer report which indicated that power companies had overcharged retail customers to tune of $4bn – now I’m not a commodities expert (though I have financial markets experience), but those figures something tells me power companies are not exactly ‘hedging’ the market risk in favour of their clients.

    One recommendation of the report is that electricity generators and retailers split up – one way that could be achieved would be via Powershop. True retail customers would have to take some risk in deciding when to buy electricity – but would you rather the electricity companies do that for you given their track record?

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  25. Geoff Pritchard

    I’ve been entering weekly meter readings for a while now, and I’ve noticed that the “daily consumption” graph is incorrect. The consumption rate shown on the graph for each week is the actual rate for the *previous* week. It’s a minor off-by-one bug, but perhaps Powershop’s web coders can find the time to fix it.

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  26. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Geoff:

    This is not actually a bug, we have applied a range of ‘rules’ in calculating the daily consumption to take out noise and spurious effects that can occur when readings are too close together. This may introduce the apparent ‘delay’ that you are observing. If you want to get the raw daily consumption I would suggest downloading the raw meter reading information from the ‘meter readings’ tab and doing your own calculations in a spreadsheet.

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  27. Carl

    I am really enjoying using powershop and how it is drawing my attention to how I use power, however I am another one who would like to be able to purchase seperate day and night rate power. In my opinion that is the only thing wrong with this place. Keep up the good work

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  28. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Carl:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    When we set up Powershop our overriding driver was simplicity. We felt (and still feel) that buying day and night power separately would introduce complexity/confusion for many customers.

    We are however thinking of different ways of presenting usage and cost information to help those that want to track their day/night patterns more closely.

    With us though, nothing is set in stone and we are happy to keep this issue under review.

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  29. Andrew

    As another Day/Night customer, I agree with Ari that there does not seem to be any benefit in purchasing Day/Night power separately.

    The net cost at the end of the day would be identical, so it would mean having to keep of two power “balances” for no reward.

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  30. Steve

    I just pulled up meridian’s *latest* Christchurch residential pricing plans for comparisons sake.

    Meridian charges 21.4 c/kWh (plus 0.16c/kWh tariff) on its Economy 24 plan. They offer a 10% discount for prompt payment. This equates to around 19.47 c/kWh, which is cheaper than the cheapest daily rate pack powershop had on offer.

    Also the cost of the *prey-pay* packs must be offset against the interest and other penalties (CC fees) incurred by the pre-payment. This would seem to make them significantly less attractive.

    How do you suppose that a consumer can benefit?

    Please put forward some specific buying strategies that demonstrate the benefit (ie. dollars saved) of this scheme.

    Steve

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  31. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Steve:

    You are right when comparing costs you need to take into account all factors, such as EC levies, prompt payment discounts, GST etc to ensure like-for-like comparisons. The other thing to take into account is that Powershop has no fixed daily charges (these are more than $200/yr for Meridian).

    Our savings calculator will give you an estimate of how much you can save (you can also click the ‘Show more details’ link when you get your result to see the tariff information we have used. Most customers won’t need to do anything, other than set their buying preferences to ‘buy the cheapest’. This is also means you are not ‘pre-paying’ at all.

    Feel free to call us on 0800 2000 40 (9am-9pm, weekdays) if you would like assistance working through the savings.

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  32. Felix

    New webpage should be better for informing potential customers.But why are the prices for everyday, powerpacks and specials spread over three pages? The old version where you can see everything on one page is better.

    Also, do I see an update to the customer section of the website or is it just an update to the email?

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  33. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Felix:

    The products have been separated into three views because we have had strong feedback that site visitors simply don’t understand the concept of an electricity product because it is so different from what they are familiar with. We have also had feedback that it all looks like too much effort. So the general idea is to step people through from a very basic low effort view of Powershop through to a more sophisticated buyer.

    We do intend to put the full ‘shop preview’ back in place, but ran out of time for this launch.

    At this stage the main ‘visible’ change for existing customers is a planned revamp of the weekly/monthly emails. Again, the general idea is to provide customers with as much information as we can with very little effort.

    The customer application itself seems to be working pretty well on the whole. We have got some more charts/reports in the pipeline, and we will probably need to do some more work on the shop as we get more products, but we don’t see a need for any major changes. Happy to take your feedback if you have a different view.

    PS: we are also planning an API soon, then you can customise to your heart’s content. :)

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  34. Felix

    Thanks for that. I guess I’m not a normal customer because I understood the concept immediately. :P

    Another point, what happened to your commitment of “there will always be a product available which will deliver savings over the course of a year for customers with typical seasonal usage patterns, even when compared to the cheapest published tariff available to all customers in your area”?

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  35. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Felix:

    You really are observant! We needed to step back from our original commitment because as we moved into new areas there were some customers on some tariffs where it became uneconomic to do so. So we have moved to “We’re determined to save you money. Powershop brings you some of New Zealand’s most competitive electricity deals. Most customers start saving money with us straight away simply because they are not on the cheapest available tariff for their area.” and direct people to the savings calculator to estimate what they can save. We really haven’t changed anything that we do, just how we describe it (as a result of moving into those new areas).

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  36. Felix

    That’s a bit disappointing Ari. I thought Powershop is a company that kept its promises, with it being government owned and all that.

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  37. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Felix:

    I can understand your disappointment at the change, and it is a change we have not taken lightly.

    However, let me assure you we don’t intend doing anything different, and the earlier commitment will be met in the major cities that we were available in at the time that ‘promise’ was made. In fact the savings calculator is premised on the idea of customers purchasing the cheapest Everyday product (either manually or through automatic top-up).

    The issue for us is whether we can continue to make that promise to all customers. What we have discovered in some of the smaller network areas are pricing anomalies. We suspect that other retailers have small numbers of customers on unprofitable prices, but because there are only small numbers of customers retailers haven’t changed their prices because they are worried about bad PR. This leaves us with the quandary that there are customers that we cannot profitably deliver savings (without requiring some engagement through buying specials or changing their behaviour). We would rather be upfront and transparent about that. So what we are doing is relying on our savings calculator to give customers an estimate of savings (or not) – which we can stand behind in all areas.

    So in summary, we don’t intend going back on our earlier promise, but we want to be honest about the commitment we make going forward, given what we now know about new areas we have gone into.

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  38. Jared

    Hi
    I’ve noticed the link to the .csv of the ‘typical customer’ graph has disappeared from the faq page since the site change…

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  39. Chris

    Ari, I have been a customer for a Month. Meriden tried unsuccessfully to retain my business and delay the process(so much for Gerry,s attempt to get a quicker changeover time). They tried three times with “bribes”This first Month I have saved $28.27with the weekend bonus to be credited.I agree with past comments about Night/Day not being disclosed.Your model shows both of these meters on the net but the “smart” meter provided by meriden has only one register-the other is embedded in the meter and not accessible. This has put a lot of my friends”off” The other item of confusion being -Why so many tariffs.Being a very keen Canty rugby supporter I am not keen on giving the Crusaders any of my power account. They get enough as it is. This will probably reflect in your Crusader packs sold.As power is sold Winter weekly Night/Day Winter weekend Night/Day and similar for the summer why dont you follow the wholesale market. You can call the tariffs what you like.Im trying to spread the word but it is difficult because the lay person doesn,t understand and the absent of Night/day is so confusing and I have sold power in my past life

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  40. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Chris:

    I agree it is not ideal that the Arc meters installed by Meridian only show one register (I believe it is possible to see the other registers with a bit of button pushing), but to be honest it is probably easier to login to Powershop and have a look. We get meter readings from Arc on a daily basis.

    We have tried to keep Powershop as simple as possible, and as you will know it is possible to ‘set and forget’, but we are also keen to offer our customers choice – particularly around how/when they pay for their power and who they buy it from. You are right, not many people are buying Crusaders power at the moment, but during rugby season when there was a chance to win a signed rugby jersey sales were steady.

    As I have mentioned before, we remain of the view that requiring customers to separately purchase day and night energy is just too confusing and too much effort for most people. Our focus will be on providing more visibility of the consumption information – which should help most customers understand their consumption and identify opportunities to save money.

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  41. Aaron

    Hi Ari,

    Can you explain the underlying rates (Network charges maybe?) at play here. I understand the reason for single price simplicity and am coming around to it. But comparing mine and my Mother’s standard power prices today the underlying rates (press the little “?” in the quote box to see the consumption/ tariff splits) are not the same.

    Me – 21.10/11.72
    Her – 20.54/11.15

    Also how often are the splits recalculated – is it each account review or more/ less often?

    Thanks

    Reply
  42. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Aaron:

    Broadly speaking there are two main factors that will influence your personalised pricing:
    1) Your meter configuration, that determines the network pricing tariff for you property (if you are interested in this there is further information available in the Orion Pricing Guide).
    2) Your consumption, both in total and when you use it (ie. more night usage will lower your aggregate price).

    In you/your mother’s case, you will have the same meter configuration (because we have configured these all on day/night/weekend), so it will be the aggregate consumption that will explain the small difference in pricing – you appear to be a low user (<9,000 kWh pa), but your mother appears to be using slightly more (current estimate around 9,855 kWh pa).

    PS: Because your mother is close to the low user threshold (9,000 kWh pa) I would advise her to select the “Primary Residence/Low User” option in the “Account Preferences” page to ensure she is always on the best plan.

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  43. Ajit

    Hi Ari,

    I dont understand the “Specials”. The special unit rate is higher than the respective power companyies’ everyday rate (except PSs own special pack). Why would you buy power in bulk at a higher price? How can they be classified as a special? Just get rid of them i say if they arent lower!

    And please make the website remember my sorting criteria on the pricing page. Everytime I log in, I have to re-sort it. All it takes is a small cookie check to see what my sorting criteria was last time i visited, right?

    Reply
  44. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Ajit:

    Fair comment. Specials won’t always be the cheapest, they could involve prize draws etc. Also, any products sold as dollar denominated (eg. $49.95, or $10) rather than as units get presented in this category. I take your point, there may be a better label than ‘specials’ for these products. We are currently reviewing the layout of the shop and will take your feedback on board, including the saving of your sorting preferences (we deliberately defaulted to random to ensure that all products get presented to customers at some point), which may not be necessary after we review the shop layout.

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  45. Felix

    The Products Purchased page is kind of confusing. It doesn’t distinguish between products used but not yet included in an account review and products not active yet. In both cases “Used” and “Active” display zeros.

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  46. Ajit

    The FlowerPower Pack for example says – Buy in bulk and save. That is just incorrect because their bulk pricing is higher than their everyday rate. That’s the point I’m trying to make. It’s misleading information!

    I understand that the ‘Specials’ may not always be the cheapest and there may be other benefits like prize draws, but there has to be some reward for purchasing in bulk. In this case, Crusaders power and FlowerPower are higher than their own existing everyday rates. And there is no economic benefit and it defies all logic.

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  47. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Ajit:

    Thanks, I hadn’t noticed that – ‘Catchup Packs’ are showing as cheaper than Flower Power for me. Power Kiwi Limited price their own products, not us, but I will ask them to check their pricing in all areas.

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  48. Ajit

    Hi Ari
    Congratulations for being on TV. Well done! Another big win for Powershop!
    And now onto my major grouse… the Day/Night rate issue.
    I understand the need for simplicity and why you have just one combined rate. But given that Powershop is built on the premise of enabling customers to be in control of their consumption and providing choice, I feel that Day/Night pricing needs to be made clearer.
    For example, if I want to run my dishwasher on a Friday night (!), I am not sure which is the best option for me – run it after 9pm to avail of the night rate or wait for the weekend day rate to kick in on Saturday morning (I am in Christchurch). Disclosing the day night rate would solve this dilemma for me and enable me to make the right choice.
    I would also like to know whether or not my consumption patterns are changing (i.e., shifting of consumption after 9 pm or during the weekend days). It would be extremely useful if you could show me some sort of report/chart that could show these consumption patterns over time.
    Normally the change in the average rate would signal the shift in usage, however, it is difficult to use as the yardstick as the rate could have changed due to my buying a few of specials.
    I think there is a lot that could be done to clarify things, but it needs someone to be equally clear at your end on how it could best be represented visually. Presenting complex information in a way that is easy to understand is always a challenge, but not presenting any information at all under the pretext of simplicity is a cop out. You keep saying that people won’t understand, but how about giving people a little more credit – if anything your combined day/night rate is difficult to understand as its not transparent and it’s not how people are used to being billed.
    This is just speculation on my part, but I believe that most of your customers (early adopters) are probably control freaks, techie, switched on (pardon the pun) sort of people. I believe that they are the sort of people who would like more information (as long as it was well presented) as it would give them a sense of power – after all knowledge is power!
    From my experience working with interfaces and presenting complex information, sometimes the best way to move forward is to ask customers what works for them. You guys are doing a great job listening to customer feedback, but I think there could be another way to help you understand what customers are looking for.
    How about putting up a poll section on the homepage/logged in homepage? You could ask customers to vote on features and products (or even fun stuff). That way, you can gauge where customers are at on a number of issues and hopefully gain an insight into what they really need.

    Reply
  49. Mark

    Hear, hear!
    Thanks Ajit.
    From one “control freaks, techie, switched on (pardon the pun) sort of people” who doesn’t have night rate but applauds your sentiment.

    Reply
  50. Felix

    What Ajit said. I would suggest showing the day/night ratio on the home page, right below the unit balance. Also have a graph showing day/night ratio versus time.

    Reply
  51. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Ajit @Mark @Felix:

    Ok, I get the message ;)

    I’ll talk to our ops guys next week and see if we can’t come up with a few ideas for consideration/customer feedback.

    Reply
  52. Ajit

    Thanks for backing me up guys!

    I think its really important that start ups be really clear about who it is they are attracting as customers and what they can do to get more of them to sign up.

    One of the easy mistakes to make(and i speak from experience), is to design the product for an “average user.”

    Unfortunately there is no average user. Just users of your product/service. And they may be above or below the “average”.

    Powershop is an online retailer that aims to put customers directly in control of their power and thereby lower their powerbills. If thats Powershop’s value proposition/promise, you are going to attract people who are tech savvy, like to be in control and are looking for cheaper power.

    That’s who Powershop needs to design for.

    And as I said earlier, your early adopters will be likely to be even more above average! Keep them happy and they will spread the word.

    Sorry I dont mean to be too preachy, but sometimes amongst all the million things that are going on at the same time, its easy to forget some of the simplest things. :)

    Reply
  53. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Ajit:

    I don’t disagree with anything you have said Ajit. Prior to launch asking for feedback was challenging, because people needed to experience Powershop before they could provide detailed feedback. Now that we have customers with several months under their belts we could get a lot of really valuable feedback. Our issue then becomes one of prioritisation.

    Reply
  54. Mark

    Ari,
    Thanks, I have really appreciated Powershop’s responsiveness as evidenced in the messageboards. That focus converted me when I didn’t really understand how Powershop worked.

    Reply
  55. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Mark:

    Thanks for that – we do strive to be responsive to customer needs/wants. We can’t always deliver as quickly as we would like of course, to try and keep our costs low because *all* customers want value for money :) We think we have the balance about right at the moment.

    Reply
  56. Ajit

    I had a few ideas for the Unit Balance page. So I put them into a document which I’d like to share with you if possible. Whats the best way of getting it to you?

    Reply
  57. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Jared:

    Thanks for that. It seems if you select the “1 year” or “All time” charts 31 December is shown, but not otherwise. I’ll get that looked at.

    Reply
  58. Jared

    Sweet as. Thanks for all your help this year and for the PS experience – may it live long and prosper! See you next year ;)

    Reply
  59. Mark

    I got fobbed off by one of your support staff when I reported the 31 December bug using ‘Contact Us’.

    Clearly the best way to get support is by going straight to the top but it should work the other way too.

    Reply
  60. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Mark:

    Sorry about that. The contact centre are running a skeleton crew over the break, and they have no access to technical support staff during that period. Non urgent, new issues like the 31 December issue will be difficult for them to resolve until support staff come back from holiday.

    Reply
  61. Simon

    Hi Ari,

    I have sent this issue twice in as many days via ‘contact us’ when logged in but no reply – not even a “we’ll look into that and get back to you” autoresponse.

    I bought 50 units of ‘power burglar’ yesterday morning, and thought I’d check how my other products were faring under ‘products purchased’

    Not 30 seconds had passed since the purchase, but already 12 units had been used. How is this possible?

    My usage is ~10units/day, which would mean over 1 days power had been ‘burgled’ from my account. I have around 600 units so my account certain wasn’t in deficit.

    I have to say it is disappointing that I have to post this on the blog page for all to see in order to [hopefully] get a response.

    Reply
  62. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Simon:

    Firstly, apologies for the lack of direct response from our side to date.

    Essentially, the reason that these units appear to have been “burgled” from your account is that the steal-a-deal product has an earlier expiry date than other products you have purchased. What you probably didn’t notice at the time that these 12 units disappeared is that 12 units of some of your other product purchases would have re-appeared.

    Reply
  63. Simon

    @ Ari: thanks for getting back to me. No, I didn’t notice amounts of other units go up when I purchased the power pack, but will certainly watch for this in future, now that I know how it works.

    Almost a year with PS and still learning! Cheers.

    Reply
  64. Stephen

    Hi,
    I am horrified at the current prices on Powershop.
    I have been happy up till this point but the prices are all above 20 cents with current months at 23 cents plus.
    Feels like you got the numbers you wanted, raised the prices and are hoping like all the others that we won’t change suppliers.
    Please let me know whay average prices are 25% higher now that for the past 12 months of my time with powershop.
    Regards
    Stephen

    Reply
  65. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Stephen:

    I know price increases are always difficult to absorb, but I can assure that we are still committed to delivering low prices and savings to our customers.

    These new prices reflect higher winter wholesale energy costs – which for a variety of reasons are higher this year. As Powershop prices go up and down with the seasonality of the energy market customers will have banked some good savings through our low priced summer period (particularly in your case as you have been with us a while).

    We have had feedback from several customers concerned about the steepness of the change, and a preference to see a staggered approach to seasonal adjustments, which we will take on board for future changes. But remember these are seasonal changes and our prices will drop again in spring as wholesale energy costs drop to be your average price back down. You will see that we have spring products on the shelf at the moment that are cheaper than current prices.

    Now is also the time to use Powershop’s features to monitor and managing your usage more closely to help save power and money.

    Reply
  66. Mark

    It is going to be a close run to get an overall saving even with all my efforts to get the best deals:
    – The current winter prices are higher than I was paying before I joined Powershop.
    – My average use more than doubles from summer to winter and daily consumption increases five times on those really cold days.

    Despite this “price shock”, I will have no regrets about changing to Powershop even if I end up paying slightly more. Powershops facilities are the best on the market and it is worth a lot to have a company that actively engages with me. Thanks again.

    FYI, Powershop gets another recommendation on Geekzone:
    http://www.geekzone.co.nz/404.asp?404;http://www.geekzone.co.nz:80/freitasm/7200

    Reply
  67. Cindy

    Hi there

    We just switched over to Powershop, and I’m in complete disbelief over the amount of power we’re supposedly consuming. For the first 3 days (April 9, 10, 11), our usage was placed at 40 units per day, which I’m told is on the high side of things. Then for the April 12-18, it dropped down to 30 units per day, which seems to be about average. But suddenly on the 19th, it spiked up to 67.2 and was 67.2 on the 20th as well. Considering that we didn’t do anything different on these days, and were in fact out of the house (and thus using less appliances, etc.) for the early part of the day, I’m totally shocked at where this amount came from. The raw data is even more frightening — we went from 52 units on April 18 to 150 units on April 19!! How in the world could we possibly consume 3 times as much power from one day to the next?

    I’m quite concerned because, based on these readings, in the 10 days we’ve been using Powershop, we’ve consumed as much power as we previously had used in half a month, based on an average from our Meridian bills. For example, in March, we used 1239 units (according to the Meridian bill). Our total bill before the prompt payment discount was $288.39. With Powershop, we’ve already paid $117.92, and we’re in the red, so I’m worried by the time this month is over, we’ll have paid much more than I would have normally.

    Am I looking at this information wrong? How could these sudden spikes in usage occur?

    I tried calling customer service to sort some of this out, and try to make sense of the data that were being shown in the graphs. The woman I spoke with was absolutely useless, constantly saying she didn’t understand what I was talking about and repeating in an annoyed voice, “You’ll get a bill at the end of the month” and “Your usage is really high”. She was incredibly rude and incredibly unhelpful. So far, the system has left me frustrated and fearing my bill.

    Any help, advice or explanation would be vastly appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Cindy

    Reply
  68. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Cindy:

    Firstly, apologies for your unsatisfactory response from our customer service team.

    I have had a quick look into your account and to be honest it is a little hard to see what is going on for a number of reasons:
    (1) you are a new customer and may have been switched on an estimate provided by Meridian. This is not uncommon and it may take a couple of weeks to get a good handle on your consumption while any estimate works it’s way out of the system.
    (2) You had you meter reconfigured for the Day/Night/Weekend tariff.
    (3) Your latest reading that is giving you the 150 units/day usage appears to be very high and is recorded as a “customer” reading. I am wondering if this has been incorrectly entered somehow.

    This is possibly the reason you couldn’t get much joy out of our customer service rep – it is quite complicated. Not that this is an excuse for rudeness – your call should have been escalated to a manager.

    Anyway, I don’t think I am going to be able to resolve your issue tonight, but I will get Steve, our Processing Manager to call you tomorrow to try and get to the bottom of what is going on with your usage.

    Reply
  69. Cindy

    Thanks, Ari. I look forward to hearing from you guys. I realize, from many comments above, that Powershop strives for simplicity in how it provides its service, but you must understand that the majority of customers are on a steep learning curve since most of us have never had a direct hand in monitoring our power consumption and determining the most beneficial way to purchase electricity. This means that all of your customer service reps need to take that mindset into account when dealing with even the most mundane questions. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but after that particular phone call, I felt like a dunce, which certainly soured me on the whole thing.

    But as I said, I appreciate the quick response and I look forward to hearing more. I certainly want to learn more and better understand the processes involved, but where money is concerned, most people don’t have a lot of time or budget (or patience) to mess around in the remedial class for long.

    Reply
  70. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Cindy:

    You have hit the nail on the head – we have been living with Powershop erveyday for over a year now and we need to remind ourselves that customers who have just joined us *are* on a steep learning curve. What we find is that when people “understand” what Powershop can do for them they fall in love with it, but we do need to help customers through their early experiences, particularly when there are some anomalies in the information.

    Once again, apologies for the poor service experience, and thanks for your patience and giving us the opportunity to put it right for you.

    Reply
  71. Tim

    I’ve been with Powershop now for 7 months, and despite the large spike in higher prices recently, I still think we’ll be paying less for our power over the year. The prices for spring and summer were considerably cheaper than other companies.

    The 2 main reasons we joined Powershop were for the lower prices and the ability to better monitor and control our power use. Which we are achieving to a limited degree. It makes tracking power use much easier when we have a recorded daily history and no estimates. However, not having separate night and day purchasing is a very big drawback. And I’d like to add my vote to those that have already commented on this. The reason you give for not doing this, is to keep it simple. But the benefits would be worth any learning curve. How confusing it is would all depend on how the interface is designed. With a good UI even complicated tasks can be easy? (That’s what UI designers are for). And there can also be an option to keep purchases combined.

    Having separate night/day, would make monitoring power usage and achieving saving much easier and more efficient. And buying power specials for future use much more attractive. At the moment I won’t buy the spring winter or spring specials. Because at the moment, while they are cheaper, they don’t take into account our night usage which goes from 25% in summer to over 60% in Winter. It is very difficult to see if we are making any savings or we will be paying more.

    With night and day combined I find the pricing of units hard track, making it difficult to maximize savings. It appears there is also a discount for heavy users, but I’m not sure how or when this is applied (if there is one). I think pricing needs to be more transparent, and include information about the electricity prices over the last few years and predictions over the next year so it is easier to see the benefits of seasonal specials. At the moment I’m working in the dark. I don’t really know anything about the wholesale electricity market. Prices have gone up a lot in the last 2 months, are they likely to go up more? How high and how low can the prices go? Some more info on this would be appreciated.

    In general while the experience with Powershop has been better than other power companies, I think that there is opportunity here to make Powershop, much more of a revolution.

    Reply
  72. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Tim:

    Thanks for your feedback. You raise a number of good points. I will answer each in turn:

    1. Separation of Day & Night: I agree to some extent this can be resolved through UI design, however, it is more complicated for customers to have to think about how much of each sort of power to buy. While there are a number of people like yourself who can see the benefits and are able and willing to do this, the vast majority of people unfortunately aren’t – may be in time, with some familiarity they may get there.
    2. Changing Night usage: you are right – many customers (particularly in Christchurch) use more of their power at night in winter. For customers who have been with us for 12m of more we *do* take this into account (we use the day/night ratio from the same time last year). For everyone else we currently take their current usage patterns, however we do have a planned development to have a seasonally adjusted default value to get around the problem you describe.
    3. Historic/future pricing: I agree. This is something we are working towards – now that we have a full year’s history we are intending to analyse this and present it in some form. One of the issues for us of course is that customer’s pricing are individualised and we may need to present indicative information rather than specific – but it is something we are giving thought to.
    4. Winter pricing: yes, prices have come up significantly recently. This coincides with moving into first “winter quarter” for wholesale electricity contracts ie. it reflects higher wholesale energy costs. We don’t expect prices to rise further this winter, and indeed if your night time usage does increase you should see your aggregate prices come down. At this stage we expect prices to start coming back down around August/September.

    I agree there are many opportunities for Powershop to improve and offer new information, and we have no shortage of ideas (and suggestions from customers), however we don’t have endless time or money, so we have to prioritise future developments (as much as we’d love to do everything!).

    Reply
  73. John Candy

    Customer number:900002218

    Hey Guys,
    You changed my meter back in January (because the meter was noisy) and since then you have not read it, When are you going to start reading it again, so I can stop having to get readings myself?
    Also why can i not now see the readings for the old meter, this is frustrating when I want to do analysis of my previous power consumption.

    Reply
  74. Ari Sargent Post author

    @John:

    I have asked the crew to check why you are not on a regular meter reading round, so we can get that sorted for you.

    I will also investigate getting meter reading history included in the meter readings report for old meters – I think the issue will be that we will need to treat old meters as different “registers” as these often change when a meter is replaced, but I’ll see what can be done. I am sure we can sort something out.

    Reply
  75. Roger

    Well, sorry Ari.
    I came to check out PowerShop. I read your responses to people’s feedback here. I read your assertions that PowerShop was all about making it simple for new users, about transparency – all good. I was suspicious when repeated users suggested the way info was presented on your site wasn’t particularly helpful, and you seemed convinced you knew what they wanted more than they knew what they wanted. But I looked into it anyway. I compared PowerShop’s savings claims versus my current supplier; looked at my current supplier more closely and identified a bunch of other reasons why I’d really like to dump my current supplier; and then went looking to see what PowerShop offered and how it worked.

    Bomb! So little actual information on your site I poked around for a while and then gave up. Checked out some of the products… Hey! Flower Power…turns out nothing but a pretty name and some slick slogans. No real information. Just a sign up now button. Good old power company practices alive and well. All marketing and nothing really meaningful. The commitment to making it simple for new users actually ends up seeming like a pitch for mindless new users. “Trust us – we know what’s good for you.”
    Sorry. Power companies & telecoms have trashed that trust over the past 2 decades. I need demonstration and if you get it right often enough, in enough ways, over long enough time, then you regrow some trust. And you’ve just tumbled at the first hurdle. I’ve got to agree with your users who suggest the site doesn’t give the information it needs to give in the way it needs to give it. You can assure me I’ve got it all wrong as well. What do I know? I’m just a user. But sadly for both of us, I suspect, in the meantime at least I’m not going to be a PowerShop user. If I’m going to go to the trouble of changing suppliers, I’m going to wait for one that treats me as intelligent, and offers the info I want in straightforward way in place of slogans, funky cartoon images and rugby teams.

    Learning curves? Great that you’re on one, but I can only suggest that you get off the power company learning curve, and leap on to one that’s not starting so far behind. Model yourself on Apple Mac instead of Microsoft; TradeMe… any number of operators who begin by respecting their users.
    I wish you well, because the way is certainly open for a truly innovative, ethical, customer-centred electricity company.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  76. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Roger:

    I am truly sorry you feel this way. We are genuinely trying to make a difference, and we have developed an entirely new way of engaging with your power usage and spend that has many benefits to customers. I agree we may not have done as well as we could have in explaining how things work, but I can assure that this is not out of a desire to confuse people. Rather, it is because we too are learning as we go, learning what our customers and potential customers want to know and how we can explain that in ways we both understand. And we are very mindful of needing to “earn” trust through our actions.

    Flower Power is completely independent of Powershop. Funnily enough the guys behind Power Kiwi Limited (who sell Flower Power) have had direct involvement in TradeMe in the past and saw the establishment of Powershop as a way to take an early position in retailing electricity. We have no responsibility for their products or their marketing and promotion.

    We do have a raft of information available in our FAQs. I accept that some of this information might be a little confusing and needs some improvement, but I hope it at least demonstrates that we are not trying to hide anything. This applies equally to our desire to have open discussion here on our blog.

    I will happily take your feedback on board, and if there are specific bits of information you are after and can’t find, feel free to ask your question on this blog, or call our contact centre on 0800 1000 60.

    Reply
  77. Roger

    Thanks Ari. Your commitment to open discussion is definitely a big statement in your favour. I salute you for that. Because of it I’m happy to give you the benefit of the doubt on the other stuff being unintended.
    The FlowerPower situation actually just stands as a demonstration of my point. I came, looking for something that would persuade me to click that “Go with these guys” button; checked out what was listed among your products; hit a dead end; took it as a measure of PowerShop. In the sense that it was a product you sell, that it fails to deliver is a measure of PowerShop, just as when The Warehouse sells me a garden seat that falls apart.
    Communication is a dangerous art.
    Your story about Power KIwi and direct involvement in TradeMe is interesting. However, there’s a difference between being involved in something and being on top of that critical space where trust and understanding is grown.
    Good luck. I’m still not quite ready to sign up. Maybe when you’re a bit further through the curve. But due credit to you for what you’re attempting.

    Reply
  78. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Roger:

    Thanks for that and for making the effort to contribute. And like I say, if there is ever any specific info you are looking for, please ask, as I am sure there will be others out there with the same questions, too afraid to ask. Questions also help us define what we need to improve on, and we acknowledge there is always plenty we can do to improve on our communication with actual and prospective customers.

    Reply
  79. lance

    Roger
    Thanks for the comments.

    You are right – PowerKiwi’s FlowerPower is simply a product that retails on Powershop. It’s meant to be simple – as we compete on price and price alone. We buy power, apply a margin that is embarrassingly trivial and resell in the store. That trivial margin does not allow us room to provide any other benefits to buyers aside from price.

    If you’d like products with a little more substance, then check out our Tree Power and Green Power offerings. Each of these is more expensive, but supports buying trees or carbon credits respectively.

    We rely on Powershop to provide the sales venue, and we support them as they seek to continuously simplify what is an amazingly complicated industry. They have already made an impact for many people, and new customers are hearing about it from existing ones.

    I would say that the calculator that Ari and the team have put together is, in my opinion, pretty conservative. It has to be as Powershop exposes buyers to the market forces, but there are plenty of googleable stories out there of substantial savings.

    Powershop provides the sales venue, and we support them as they seek to continuously simplify what is an amazingly complicated industry and as they endeavour to extend the scope of the market to embrace other suppliers. They have already made a dollar impact for many customers.

    I would say that the calculator that Ari and the team have put together is, in my opinion, pretty conservative. It has to be that way as Powershop exposes buyers to the market forces, but there are plenty of googleable stories out there of substantial savings.

    We’ve neglected the Flowerpower website a bit since launch – but do come across and say hi on our blogs – rowansimpson.com, simpleandloveable.com, codetocustomer.com and my own at lancewiggs.com. We are apple fans as well and users all and preach usability and simplicity in everything we do.

    Lance

    Reply
  80. Rachel

    Hi there,

    I have been searching for a while to find an ‘average’ use of power for households. My partner and I moved in together several months ago and are shocked at how much we are spending on power with Powershop. Maybe we are using too much power, maybe our days of living with flatmates so the bill was split … we’re not sure.

    However we have been trying to find an average use of ‘units per day’ or even a recommendation, with suggestions for say a ‘two bedroom home with two people.’ Of course you can’t say an exact amount we should be using, but it would be great to have some kind of suggestions on the site, perhaps even with goals/tricks/suggestions to reduce your power.

    As a further thought, you could have some kind of rewards system for people who sign up to take part in a ‘reduce your power consumption’ challenge. We would definitely be interested and know many others who would love some kind of structure to help keep costs lower for power.

    Cheers

    Rachel

    Reply
  81. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Rachel:

    Hi. To be honest it is very hard to provide an estimate of how much power customers “should” expect to be using. Usage depends on so many factors, whether you use electricity for water heating and space heating, how old your house is, and how well insulated it is etc.

    An “average” household uses 8,000 kWh pa (NI) or 9,000 kWh pa (SI), or roughly 22 kWh/day or 25 kWh/day, respectively. This will obviously vary throughout the year; usage will typically be higher in the winter.

    There are a couple of things I suggest you do to try and get a feel for how high/low you usage is:
    1. Ask on our Facebook page – people are generally willing to share this sort of information.
    2. Sign up to our free PowerSaver Application. We built this in conjunction with WWF to help people reduce their power usage. Get your friends to sign up too (they don’t have to be Powershop customers) and you will be able to compare your usage with theirs and also compete with them to see who can reduce their consumption by the most :)

    Reply
  82. carolyn johnson

    Hi, curious and frustrated, spoke to ari a month ago re winter prices and was told that was as high as they go, don’t expect to go higher. Also in reply to Tim above it says the same thing.
    So how come the prices have gone up again for me, my usage hasn’t changed much

    Reply
  83. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Carolyn:

    Our energy prices have not changed in your area since early April, however, there has been an adjustment in network prices that has lead to your overall prices.
    My apologies for this, I was unaware that this change was going to occur.

    Reply
  84. Ari Sargent

    @Carolyn:

    Hi, since you raised your concern we have done a bit more digging. It turns out that United Networks changed the structure of their network charges some years ago because gas hot water became widespread (thus removing their ability to control load). Accordingly, all customers with gas hot water are correctly on an uncontrolled rate. It would appear that your old retailer was undercharging you. We have also identified around 30 Powershop customers that, if they have electric hot water, could be on the wrong network tariff. We have put in place a process to work with United Networks to ensure that this is rectified in those cases.

    Reply
  85. carolyn johnson

    Thanks Ari, We were on the uncontrolled rate with our previous power company so not sure why they told you otherwise, the company also supplied our gas.
    Is powershop still looking at entering the gas market, that would be good.

    Reply
  86. Ari Sargent

    @Carolyn:

    I am not 100% sure what happened with the transfer of your account to us, but I think it’s all sorted now.

    We still have an eye on adding gas in the future, but it is not an easy market for a new player to break into, so realistically we’re still a wee way off.

    Reply
  87. Steve

    Hi,
    i was looking on the consumer powerswitch website to switch.
    It seems that Powershop is not the cheapest by a long shot and that consumers are not getting the deal they expect.
    I don’t have a problem with powershop being around the same as others but as they have much lower debt risk as consumers prepay for their power, no costs of sending out invoices, no meter readers etc etc why the hell should their power be more expensive than anyone – especially genesis?
    I feel this is a con now and can’t wait for the opposition to turn up at my house and offer the switch promo like they have done to several of my friends who have left powershop.
    I thought it was such a great idea and that the managment such as Ari were really going to ensure the point of difference was maintained but it has just turned out to be another ripoff by the electricty providers in this country.

    Reply
  88. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Steve:

    The reality is that around 90% of the cost of supplying you electricity relates to direct costs, such as wholesale energy, network charges, and meter lease and reading costs. We have worked hard to keep our other costs as low as possible, and in most areas we still remain the cheapest retailer.

    What has happened in recent months is Genesis have started aggressively discounting in the South Island because they will inherit the Tekapo Power Stations as part of the Governments Energy Reforms. I don’t see what they are doing as sustainable, they are heavily discounting now to acquire market share. They are almost certainly valuing their energy at below wholesale market rates – they will not do this forever, this is merely a transition that will work it’s way through the system over time.

    I can assure you we are not ripping anyone off – our prices remain competitive. I would add that Powerswitch does not take into account the regular Powershop specials, nor the weekend rebate (for Christchurch customers). The con, if there is one is that the larger retailers can cross subsidise their retail businesses and get away with not having to innovate to provide a better service and a sustainably lower cost. We are hopeful that other parts of the energy reforms can address this issue.

    In the meantime, and as always we encourage people to shop around and choose the supplier that best suits them.

    Reply
  89. Sean

    Hi
    Just reading Tim’s comments from April 22nd. I am also concerned as a Christchurch consumer about pricing plans for high winter night rate users like ourselves.
    I will be looking very close at my total power usage vs invoices after 12 months as a customer. I hope the figures stack up because the competition are very keen to get my business.

    Reply
  90. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Sean:

    Fair enough. If indeed you are a high night time user you should see your prices coming down to reflect that, and you will find that prices in spring are lower than they are now.

    Reply
  91. Sid

    Hello Ari, I sent an email few days ago wanting to enquire about having a power special pack named after our business (like you had for a pub few days back). Can someone contact me as to how this will stack up as a marketing tool for the business and how do I go about doing one (for my business – it it makes economic sense)

    Reply
  92. Stephen Brooker

    I’ve been on powershop for sometime and I’m pretty sure it’s one of the most expensive providers out there. I have two meters…very flash ones with all sorts of control options. I think you guys have seriously mislead about my best option…I’m not particularly happy at all. Feel like I’ve been conned. Would love you guys to prove that you’ve been the cheapest supplier. Am looking elsewhere now.

    Reply
  93. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Stephen:

    I am sorry you feel conned. I can assure you that we are the cheapest retailer, or if not very close to it, for most customers.

    You can use our own savings calculator as a guide to estimated savings. Or for an independent assessment you can read the MED Quarterly Survey of domestic electricity prices or use Consumer’s Powerswitch site.

    Having said that, because of our variable pricing your prices will be higher at this time of year and savings may be small, if any. However, when our prices drop in spring your savings will start building up again. More information on this can be found here.

    We are also confident that through the information we provide customers they are likely to be more conscious of their energy consumption and use less as a result, giving further savings.

    I am not sure what options your meters provide you with, but feel free to call us on 0800 462 668 – it may be possible to reconfigure your meters to get you on a better tariff option.

    Reply
  94. Mark

    @Stephen
    What a nebulous complaint! Ari has been very restrained in responding.
    You only present two facts: 1) I’m on Powershop 2) I’ve got two fancy meters. ;)
    How can Powershop prove they are cheaper when you have most of the info about what your costs used to be?
    You could have said for period X last year with supplier A I used B units which cost $C, and for the same period this year I used D which cost $E. Then someone could have done a comparison.
    For example, using my situation. In the last 6 months I’ve used 5,689 units for $1,086 which is $0.191 (19.1 cents) per unit. Last year (with Meridian on an Anytime plan) for the same 6 months I used 4,893 units for $1,061 which is $0.216 (21.6 cents) per unit (that includes the 10% prompt payment discount and industry levy).
    I’m always thinking I was paying 20.5 cents a unit (before discount) with Meridian so Powershop seems more expensive. But I’m forgetting the daily charge was close to $1 a day and that makes all the difference.

    @Ari
    My brickbat, the reason that I came into this forum, is that I’m still waiting (six months actually) for rolling annual (12 month) graphs as an option for or replacement of the calendar year graphs.

    Reply
  95. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Mark:

    Thanks for your support.

    Sorry, we have made very little progress on updating reporting etc. We have just kicked off a project to review all interactions and go through the every increasing ‘to-do’ list. Your suggestion is included on that list :)

    Reply
  96. Ari Sargent

    @Alan:

    There are a couple of reasons why your prices are higher this year:
    1. Our wholesale energy costs have increased.
    2.Your actual daytime usage is a higher proportion of your total this year than we assumed last year, which means that you have a higher daytime component in your pricing.

    Wholesale energy contracts are typically quarterly, with the winter quarter ending in September. So you can expect your prices to start coming down again in October.

    Reply
  97. Alan

    Hi when we went to the smart meter with day and night ,we were assured that we would not pay more than before.What can you do about this ,we have been with you since you started up .

    Reply
  98. Ari Sargent

    @Alan:

    When we made the day/night changes we did set these up to ensure customers were no worse off – I am reasonably confident that this will be the case over the course of a year, but there may be periods within the year when this isn’t the case. I will have someone take a look into your account to check out what is going on in your case.

    Reply
  99. Pete

    Ari, why have the prices of future bundles of power increased so much? Traditionally, you could buy a future season (e.g. summer) power pack for about $40. This allowed me to budget roughly 2/3 of my monthly power bill towards current month power and 1/3 to future power packs to help balance the bill year round. Trying to keep my bills at about $140, I can’t buy future power packs (at $80-$90) and pay for this month’s power. So I will end up not being able to smooth my bill, the primary reason for being with powershop.

    Is this just a temporary thing, will we be seeing some spring, autumn and summer power packs for $30-$40 again?

    Reply
  100. Warwick

    I would like to thank powershop for their very quick response and great service in relation to this, Not only did I have a reply from Ari on here in less then 30 mins (out of business hours) but by 10 oclock the next day I had a voice mail from head of customer service (i forget his name now) explaining things and saying it had been fixed.

    Please Please tell me you will be able to provide power to the Waimakariri area very soon as I dont want to leave powershop when I move in November

    Reply
  101. Ari Sargent

    @Warwick:

    Thanks, we pride ourselves on our responsiveness.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have active plans to enter the Mainpower area – we’ll be sure to let you know when we do arrive though.

    Reply
  102. Damian

    Some feedback on that survey..
    A couple of the questions have an ‘Other’ box, however there was no selectable option for ‘Other’. was that intentional or maybe an oversight?

    Reply
  103. Ari Sargent

    @Damian:

    Thanks for the feedback. I suspect it was an oversight, or perhaps a configuration issue. I’ll get the team to take a look on Monday. Feel free to email your feedback through at any time though :)

    Reply
  104. Felix

    And after question 3 “how often you read your meter” there should’ve been another question asking about smart meters.

    Reply
  105. steve

    fail. unit price is poor value for money.

    So the finger-in-the-wind PS unit price for December this year is around 4c PU (25%) higher than at this time last year.. So why is that?

    Lake levels… was it something like ”the potential for drought in late summer combined with lower than normal inflow during Spring has necessitated a speculative margin to the spot price to mitigate the risk of low lake levels later in the year”

    But hang-on a moment. Meridian’s lake level indicators show higher than normal levels.

    Reply
  106. Ari Sargent

    @Steve:

    Our pricing is not directly influenced by current lake levels or market conditions; our policy is to buy our energy on forward contracts 6-12m (or more) in advance to ensure we are not exposed to short term wholesale movements. Indeed, earlier this month wholesale market prices were at record high levels for this time of year – see this stuff.co.nz article.

    Your price differences are caused by several other factors:
    1. general increase in wholesale market prices, in part due to the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme.
    2. Slightly higher day-time usage this year compared to last.
    3. A change in our methodology for applying fixed lines charges (this change was made back in April).
    4. The increase in GST from 12.5 to 15%.

    Despite these increases you appear to have made considerable savings with us and we remain cheaper than your previous supplier.

    Reply
  107. Hayden Gray

    Hi Ari,

    I have been a PS customer for a little over a year now, and have become worried about the steep clime in price just recently (when the price was going down this time last year!)
    I have just been looking at your online saving calculator, and it tells me I will save about $480 by changing to Genesis. If I redo the calculation based on my 50/50% day/night ratio, I should actually get a $660 saving by moving.
    Are you able to give me a reason why I should consider staying with PS?
    Kind Regards,
    Hayden

    Reply
  108. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Hayden:

    We will shortly be emailing all customers explaining our planed price movements. Based on customer feedback from last year we intend to start our seasonal price increases a little earlier this year so that the changes are not so sudden, and so that we can keep the peak winter price lower.

    We are aware that Genesis are currently offering attractive prices to some customers as they re-balance their customer base off the back of the energy reforms (ie. inheriting the Tekapo Power Stations from Meridian will leave them with surplus SI capacity). We do not believe Genesis pricing is sustainable and predict their prices will increase. Indeed, we have seen some media coverage in the last few days (see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10701800) that outlines some tariff corrections they are making – although we have yet to see published details of their new tariffs and what areas they relate to.

    Our savings calculator is based on a customer “doing nothing” and therefore does not take into account the benefit of any of our specials. There are also other ways that Powershop can help you save money on your power, such as:
    – greater awareness of your usage and cost will help you use less power, and,
    – we have frequent referral programmes that will give you account credits that can offset your power costs.

    For your usage profile you may not feel it is not possible to close the gap between the cost of power with Powershop and another retailer. We would obviously prefer to keep you as a customer but the choice of retailer is yours, and we actively encourage customers to look around for the deal that best suits their needs.

    Reply
  109. Margaret

    Hi Ari

    I’m in Christchurch and our meter thingy that sends data was damaged in the Boxing Day earthquake (the meter itself ticked along as normal). We were immediately flicked to estimated readings, so I didn’t realise there was a problem until a) I got an email from Powershop asking me to enter a manual read (which I ignored thinking it was just a random computer-generated email) and b) Arc Electronics rang and said ‘we need to come and replace your meter’.

    Our meter was duly replaced and I made a note of the final reading. The new meter started again at a zero reading.

    I logged in to check my balance (obviously hoping that I’d been way over-estimated and I’d have heaps of units available!) – but all my meter readings before the replacement have been wiped and replaced with a row of dashes.

    So I sent an email from the Powershop website asking for a way of figuring out the difference between what I’d purchased and what I’d used – at least I think that’s what I asked: every reply email I’ve received is missing the original text so I can’t be sure what I asked.

    Since then I’ve had a number of replies saying things like ‘The contractor takes a final meter reading when removing the meter. That is the meter reading that we charge you up until on the old meter.’ – Well yes I understand that, but I’d like to see all the information for myself! I’ve tried to set out why I’d like the information but I can’t seem to get my message across.

    Kind regards, Margaret

    Reply
  110. Pete

    Ari,
    On 22nd September last year I gave you feedback about the high price of future month packs and you had the price halved. I notice they’re back up again…why? Can we get them halved again, keen to buy a winter/autumn pack in the vicinity of $40.

    Thanks
    Pete

    Reply
  111. Ari Sargent

    @Pete:

    I’ll get the guys to have a look at it again. Are you aware that we now refund any expired units at original purchase price? So if you did buy a pack that was too big you won’t end up out of pocket. Also remember that packs are valid from the account review before to the account review after the noted validity period – this means that you effectively get 2 months to use a 1 month pack (provided you haven’t bought too much before/after that month).

    Reply
  112. Aaron

    It seems a bit unfair that the “surprise” specials are short dated. I have purchased ahead so there is no point purchasing specials that run out in April. :(

    This seems to favour those who don’t plan ahead!

    Reply
  113. Ari Sargent

    @Aaron:

    I understand your point, it does seem unfair to penalise good behaviour. We had assumed that most customers would have “room” in their accounts to squeeze in a small special or too; obviously we were incorrect.

    However, you may find that if you purchased one of these you will end up using it. We expect power usage to increase over coming weeks as it gets darker and colder, these units will also slot in ahead of any others with a later expiry date and you also get until the first account review after 30 April to use these units. Our policy is now to refund expired units at original purchase price, so there is not a lot to lose if you go ahead and purchase.

    Reply
  114. alan

    Hi the price of your power is way too high 22.70c a kw for the best special at the moment ,i have been with you for 2 or more years from the start.If you can not do something about this will have to change to genesis.

    Reply
  115. Ari Sargent

    @Alan:

    Unfortunately there are a number of factors influencing prices this year; the GST increase last year, a higher than expected increase in Orion lines charges and higher energy costs. We are working hard to obtain more competitive wholesale energy costs to help keep prices down for the next 12 months, but unfortunately we have had no option but to increase prices for this winter.

    You can rest assured we will not be turning into a heartless power company any time soon, but the unfortunate reality we have a number of pressures on our costs at the moment.

    Reply
  116. Geoff

    Ouch! My April account review was done on 2 May, which has thrown a spanner into my plans. One of my special packs expired before I got a chance to use any of it.

    I understand that Powershop doesn’t guarantee to do an account review on any particular day of the month, but hadn’t appreciated that it might happen in a different month entirely. Is this within normal policy, or can it be retrospectively fixed?

    I’ve seen other power companies let things slide to the point where meters go unread for anything up to a year; it would be a shame if that was starting to happen to Powershop, which has done very well so far.

    Reply
  117. Ari Sargent

    @Geoff:

    A few things. Account reviews are done following a meter reading – these are normally done on a 20 business day cycle (generally this means monthly). It is likely that your April meter reading was done a little later because of the Easter break. We have no intention of changing our meter reading cycle.

    Secondly, we always allow a “grace period” on our unit expiry. If you read the product terms and conditions you will see that products are valid until the first account review after the expiry date. What this means is that you are not disadvantaged because your review was pushed into May. Those particular units would have expired even had you review been done in April.

    Lastly, and most importantly, we changed our policy a while ago and we now refund the original purchase price of any expired credits – this has been automatically applied to your account and will be available to use on future purchases. You can see the refund on your statement page.

    Reply
  118. Geoff

    The St. Patrick’s Day special pack has an expiry date of 30-Apr-2011, so if the April account review had actually been done in April, it would not have expired then (right?).

    I appreciate the refund, but still feel disadvantaged because I will now have to buy replacement power at a higher price.

    Reply
  119. Ari Sargent

    @Geoff:

    No, as mentioned all products have a grace period, so a product with a 30 April expiry date is actually valid until your first account review in May. However, I do see the issue that had the review occurred in April your first review in May would have been later in the month. I see you entered a meter reading on 20 April – I will check with the ops guys to see if we can do an April review rather than using the actual reading from May.

    Reply
  120. Geoff

    Thanks. The amount of money involved is small, but I’m still impressed that you looked at it instead of just telling the customer to get lost.

    Reply
  121. Roy

    I’ve got a doozy for you ! For 4 consecutive months, I have not been billed correctly. Various theories have been offered, but they all revolve around ‘el mes que viene’. Hmmmm ! The problem always gets postponed for a month ! Yesterday was my account review day. What do you know – no review ! You know, if I don’t phone and ask, you guys don’t review me. THIS CAN’T BE RIGHT !!!! Can somebody senior please fix it and stop putting it in the ‘can’t be done basket’ ? So far, I have made at least a dozen phone calls to get this sorted and at least half as many e-mails. Last month, I phoned up mid-afternoon on my account review day (26th) because of no review and was told that I’d jumped the gun, and that I would have been reviewed during the overnight period between 26th and 27th. THIS month, I’ve waited. During the 26th and 27th overnight period – NO REVIEW ! Why can’t you FIX it ? If I phone up today, on past history, I’ll probably hear that it’s still somehow my fault for being impatient or some such thing. I’ve posted this here because I need to get the problem looked at further up the chain, because the standard procedure just seems set to ‘feed me a line’ that next month will be OK. Why am I concerned ? Because if you don’t fix it, my units don’t fall into place properly, and it makes it difficult to pre-plan my advance purchases. WHY is my account review day triangle ‘stuck’ on the wrong day, and it doesn’t review on that day anyway ? I’m sorry to put this here, but private phone calls and e-mails don’t get results. I realise that you don’t guarantee to review on any particular day (which seems strange – why state an account review day for ANYBODY in the first place, then ?), but there have now been 22 uninterrupted business days since my last forced review. Houston, there IS a problem !!

    Reply
  122. paul

    I’ve got a similar situation to you Roy. I live in an apartment which, because of security access issues, makes it impossible for the meter reader to co-ordinate with the building supervisor for some reason. However I’ve been reading the meter myself monthly and entering it on the web page, so I’m happy that I’m being billed the correct amount. CAn’t you do the same?

    Reply
  123. Roy

    Hi, Paul ! I enter readings every day without fail, usually within the same 2-hour window. The issue is the pack validity dates and when they ‘kick in’ to the period immediately after an account review. If Powershop don’t review, it’s difficult to know when the pack validity starts and ends. HOWEVER, yesterday afternoon, I did make a call to Powershop, who were unaware of this posting, and the problem did escalate to a 90%+ resolution. After much head scratching, it seems like a fixed account review date on an exact day of the month makes ‘computer say no’. Changing it to review after 20 BUSINESS days makes each month’s review date slightly different, but makes the review triangle work properly again, gives an auto review date to work with approximately a month in advance, so it makes the advance pack purchase planning workable again. My account has now been officially reviewed, and for the next 2 or 3 days (until end of month), I am now in very slight NEGATIVE units, which will return to POSITIVE units as we hit 1st October and pre-paid October units flood in and fill the negative 3-day void to positive. If my account review had not taken place as it was supposed to, then an account review today, for example, would have resulted in having to make a small unit purchase at the default rate to fill the negative void up to the account review ‘read’. Having the review done properly, when the units were actually in positive balance, means that my advance pack purchases work properly. That was my issue, and thank you, Powershop, for sorting it at last.

    Reply
  124. Roy

    Everyone does realise that a pack that’s valid for October (say) is actually valid from your account review in September through to your account review in November. If your account review is on, say, 15th, your 1 month October validity pack runs from 15th September through 15th November. That’s 2 months validity. However, if your account review is (say) the 1st, your 1 month October validity pack runs from 1st October to 1st November. That’s only 1 month validity ! THAT is why getting the account review date correct is important, everyone !

    Reply
  125. Ari Sargent

    @Roy: You are almost correct. If, in your example, the account review occurs on the 1st October your October pack was actually valid from 1 September to 1 November – still 2 months. However, the actual months for which the pack is valid are different. It is for this reason we call the packs October packs – we do guarantee that they will be valid for October in all cases. The bit at the start and the end is entirely up to your review cycle. In most cases we do not have absolute control over when these reviews occur because they aere tied to to meter reading cycles that do change from time to time. In any event, we use the units with the earliest expiry date first and will refund any expired units at their original purchase price so there are only a few circumstances where you might be disadvantaged by quirks in the review cycle and in those rare circumstances the impact is usually quite small. If you want to play it safe, treat products as only being available for their notional validity period (October in the example).

    Reply
  126. Roy

    Thank you for the correction. I didn’t realise that a 1st October review date would entitle an October pack to jump back to a start date of 1st September, as I thought that a pack start date of 1st October and an account review date of 1st October would be seen by the computer as one and the same, only allowing to go forwards.

    Reply
  127. wayne

    Hi Ari,
    I was expecting the power price will come down quite a bit in October. I think there’s approx 3 cents difference between last year October price and this year’s (my case, and i know there’s the GST rise effect). Would you be able to briefly explain why that is? cheers

    Reply
  128. Ari Sargent

    @Wayne: there are several reasons why the price drop in October is not as large as you might have expected:
    1. Orion’s network charges increased quite a bit this year (approximately 10%).
    2. Based on feedback from last winter (2010) about sharp price movements going into winter we have smoothed these out in both the upward and downward directions.
    3. Following the February earthquake we held back on planned price adjustments to help customers get through winter.
    4. The change in GST rate (as you noted).

    You will also see that the prices of the summer powerpacks are lower than today’s prices as we plan to drop prices further in the lead up to summer.

    Reply
  129. Lance

    Hi there Ari. Just in this last week when I have gone to enter a meter reading I have been getting this message come up all the time.

    Hmmmm. Something’s not quite right.

    We’re sorry, but we are still not sure about this reading. So rather than updating your unit balance at this time, we have left things as they were and would like to just check everything is okay with the reading.

    We will update your account once we have completed this. What would be causing this?

    Reply
  130. Ari Sargent

    @Lance: it looks like your consumption has changed quite a bit on one of your registers and your readings are being rejected by our validation rules. I will get someone to take a look at it for you on Monday.

    Reply
  131. Ari Sargent

    @Roy: On the contrary, our position has not changed. We aim to deliver value-for-money to all of our customers. We don’t overcharge and keep anything in reserve to buy customers back on their way out the door, as appears to be the practice of a number of other retailers. However, as described to you in other forums we do need to continue to invest in growing our customer base to gain economies of scale and we spread this investment across a number of channels, including friends programmes, affiliate sales, telesales, marketing and direct incentives.

    Reply
  132. Mark

    I used Contact Us last week while logged in and checking the Account Review page. I have had not a response to the issue I raised and I’m annoyed because the problem affects what I want to do.

    The Account Review report does not match the details from earlier in the year. The monthly figures are all different to what was previously calculated.

    The totals don’t reconcile. For example, if I add the units used each month to my meter reading at the start of the year then the total doesn’t match the meter reading for the end of that latest month.

    Reply
  133. Ari Sargent

    @Mark: Sorry, I am not sure why your previous ticket hasn’t been answered. I’ll chase that up.

    In answer to your question, we have changed this report. It used to be called “Monthly Costs” which was actually an estimate of the cost of power used within the calendar month. We have now changed this to “Account Reviews”, and the information now displays the actual cost of power as described in your monthly account review, based on actual meter readings and the date of those readings. If you click on any column on the table at the bottom of the Account Reviews page a screen will pop-up that will contain the same information as was contained in your Monthly Statement email for that month.

    Feel free to call if you need any further information.

    Reply
  134. Mark

    Thanks for the quick and clear response.

    There’a an inconsistency in the Account Review page.

    At the top it says “Click on the month or on the table below to see a copy of your Monthly Report.”

    At the bottom it says “If you’ve opted not to receive a Monthly Report email you can turn it back on here.”

    The two uses of “Monthly Report” are for different monthly reports. The first should probably be changed to “Account Review”.

    Reply
  135. Mark

    On reflection, I think I’ve misunderstood.
    If I switch on the Monthly Report do I get the Account Review / Monthly Statement or a summary for the actual calendar month?

    Reply
  136. Ari Sargent

    @Mark:

    If you opt in to the monthly report you will get sent an email each month when your account is reviewed that details how much power you have used since the last review and how much it cost you. It will also detail any purchases you have made during the month.

    Leave it with us, we’ll take another look at the wording to see if we can make it less confusing.

    Reply
  137. Mark

    I can’t get access to all my account reviews because Feb 2010 review occurred 3 March 2010 which means the 16 March 2010 review doesn’t appear.

    Reply
  138. Mark

    Ari, the wording is not confusing – I was just looking for some sort of calendar month power use. I’m happy to use Account Reviews but, as I said previously, I can’t get access to one of them.

    I’ve realised that you’ve retained the calendar month reports for Average Unit Price and Monthly Purchases but you’ve got rid of, from memory, two calendar month reports: Monthly Power Use and Monthly Power Cost. They’ve been replaced them with the non-calendar month Account Review.

    Previously I could take Power Use / Power Cost = Average Unit Price. Now there is no easy way to see why the Average Unit Price has changed.

    Reply
  139. Mark

    Re “I can’t get access to all my account reviews because Feb 2010 review occurred 3 March 2010 which means the 16 March 2010 review doesn’t appear.”

    The graph is still incomplete but I can determine the values from the monthly table which is the sum of both reviews. As I know one I can calculate the other.

    Reply
  140. Ari Sargent

    @Mark:

    Ok, that all makes sense. Sorry for creating confusion/hassle for you. We decided to move away from calendar month reporting because it did involve estimation (not everyone’s meter is read on the last day of the month) and using actual account reviews is therefore more accurate, but I can appreciate that the change has created confusion. I will talk to our development team about presenting both month’s details when there is more than one account review per month.

    Reply
  141. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Damian: No, sorry I didn’t see that one. I have just checked the spam folder too, and no sign of it there either. Would you mind posting your comment again. Thanks.

    Reply
  142. Damian

    Bizarre, may have been an issue with the proxy at work.

    I was thinking, on the account review report, one could be easily confused into thinking that the graphs show the electricity used for that month (for those with reviews like mine)..
    Take my January review for example, the period runs from 8/12/10 – 4/01/11. I understand the graph represents the review in January – there’s the potential for that confusion (if one to was to solely rely on the graphs)

    Don’t know if that’s anything worth looking at?

    Reply
  143. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Damian: We’ll take another look. Perhaps changing the style of the axis labels might help make it clearer than “Jan” is a point in time, rather than the period of the month. Thanks.

    Reply
  144. Craig

    Hi Ari – my meter readings seem to be slipping back. At the moment it’s a week behind. A few weeks ago I enquired and was told there was an issue reading smart-meters, but that it had been fixed. However is this an ongoing problem? Thanks.

    Reply
  145. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Craig: Apologies for this. One of the smart meter owner’s (AMS) is currently experiencing technical issues and there is currently a 5-8 day delay in getting readings through to us. They are working as hard as they can to restore normal service.

    Reply
  146. Braden

    …takes a bunch of rotten demagogues, famous the world over for their abuse of power, and recasts them as people who do decent things in their community…. just about the best way possible to humiliate them.

    That is what you think of the Pope?

    Utterly, utterly disgusting.

    Reply
  147. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Braden: No, not at all. The “rotten demagogues” statement refer to an earlier campaign. We are not in any way saying the Pope fits in this category. I have just edited this statement in the previous blog post to make it clear that it relates only to the first campaign.

    Reply
  148. Braden

    @Ari

    Sorry, that’s not clear at all, I haven’t noticed any new campaign – the Pope remains surrounded by Kims, Murdochs, Nixons and suchlike.

    I am fascinated by a company that is prepared to publicly describe the Pope as a ‘rotten demagogue’ who has ‘regularly violated human rights’ and the analyse how best to humliate him… is this a commercial death wish?

    We’ll see what the paper says.

    Reply
  149. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Braden:let me be explicit then, we are categorically not saying the Pope is a rotten demagogue or that he has violated human rights. These statements related to the figures you have mentioned (Kim, Murdoch,Nixon etc). As stated at the start of my post yesterday (http://blog.powershop.co.nz/?p=286), we are now taking the “Same power, different attitude” campaign in a new direction.

    Reply
  150. David

    I don’t think it is appropriate in any way for Powershop or any company to use a religious figure to promote/sell their products. Take down your Pope billboards and stop using him to promote yourselves. Do you really think that Catholics and others who admire the Pope are going to be impressed by your commercialisation of him/his office for your own financial ends. Yeah right!

    Reply
  151. John Higgins

    Sorry but your comment”let me be explicit then, we are categorically not saying the Pope is a rotten demagogue or that he has violated human rights.” is fine but it is how it is perceived by the general public. Whether or not you are “not saying that…” it is the picture that is “painting a thousand words” “Mummy, what is the Pope blessing those two men for?”

    Just like those 2 disc jockey’s in Australia, it is another case of blindly doing or saying something without thinking through the consequences. Please take down your offensive posters.

    Reply
  152. Jan

    I agree with David. I am astounded that a company that wants to be taken seriously would engage in such a campaign that can only alienate Christians in general, not to mention Muslims and Jews. It is not appropriate for any business to take a stance on moral issues. I had been thinking of joining Powershop but not anymore.

    Reply
  153. John Chapman

    While under strife the teachings of Christ are to turn the other cheek, yet under contrast the teachings of Mohumed are roughly put, semtex and ball bearings. You know that had you depicted Mohummed your head office would now be vapourised. You are the true coward here Mr Sargent. You are like the school bully who picks on those who will not fight back – to make yourself look stroooong. Why dont you just get back to your boardroom and stop trying to convince everybody you’re so wise and intelligent? Cowards cannot be leaders. Your peers know you’re not CEO material.

    Reply
  154. Lynda Stack

    In Ari’s reply to Braden he says “…we are categorically not saying the Pope is a rotten demagogue or that he has violated human rights.”

    But your statement recorded in the net below in Stoppress refers to the first posters depicting Sadaam etc but then broadens its implications to ‘anyone with power…’ and here you must be including the Pope in your thinking or he wouldn’t be in your campaing.

    “It’s pure satire that ridicules some of the most despised individuals who have ever held the reins of power,” he says. This leads to the transformation of their power where the are seen to do the opposite of what they are known to do or hold to. Here again the Pope fits in blessing same-sex when he only holds to what marriage actually means (maritare – Latin root word). So by blessing same sex he is doing good and when he doesn’t he is doing evil?

    Ari – you are using YOUR power erroneously. Nor are you being honest to Braden as your words imply a more negative attitude to BXVI than you will admit NOW.

    Your comments in line with the poster are apprenticed to the work of Goebels.

    Ari quoted on Stoppress:

    Anyone with power—be it a politician or power company—he adds, should use that power responsibly.

    “Showing how out of place they look in everyday, charitable situations highlights their abuse of power and comments on how different the world would be if they’d used it for good instead of evil.”

    Reply
  155. Heidi Davidson

    Saw your advert with the Pope on trade-me..pretty disgusting to give a completely false impression of the entire Catholic community by having the Pope bless a gay marriage (and I’m not even Catholic). I certainly won’t be supporting you.

    Reply
  156. Andrew

    That’s me, my immediate family and my business out of Powershop business forever. to use his Holiness in this manner reeks of the “loony left wing” of this country; and then to have this uncompromising attiture make the siuation even worse you satanic moren!!!!!

    Reply
  157. Bea

    I think really it’s up to the company how they want to market themselves as long as it’s not promoting harm to anyone so if you hate the idea of two dudes getting married so much then by all means go pay more for power elsewhere, no one is stopping you.

    Reply
  158. Alan Robertson

    Recommend you pull the Pope ads.
    Either confusing or irritating, certainly not what I want my power company to be indulging in.

    Reply
  159. Jesse

    Ridiculous, the pope is just a person and has been depicted in many different ways by many different people. Calm down and focus on your own issues rather than moaning to some really nice guy who is here primarily to help people better understand their power consumption better.

    Reply
  160. Martin

    Hi,

    I am powershop customer and find the most recent add very offensive. I think it is best to leave religious figures out of your campaign in a “new direction”.

    Reply
  161. Rob

    I’m certainly glad I’m not the only one offended by the latest gay marriage/pope advertisement.

    Can I suggest to the others who have posted similar sentiments here that they make an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority at http://www.asa.co.nz.

    And to Powership…. rethink your strategy. Offendiing people isn’t a good way to attract customers.

    Reply
  162. Rob

    I have to agree with Braden. There was no indication that Powershop was taking their campaign “in a new direction” – There was simply ‘another’ advertisement.

    Reply
  163. Paul Garner

    Did you know that IBM supplied Nazi Germany with technology used in their program against German Jews? You’re practically in the same league by attacking NZ’s Catholic minority with your bill boards. Business without morals is still good business, huh?

    Reply
  164. Aaron

    Hi,

    I read of lower prices at a wholesale level and lakes spilling but Winter forward prices on powershop are at historical highs (for me over 27c/kWh!).

    What gives? I’d have to consider switching if those rates persist for much longer.

    Reply
  165. Tony Auckram

    You obviously have no idea of what power of good the Catholic church does in the world. Why do you think you have a mandate to attack the church? What’s next: Maori? Muslims? Jews? What’s a bet you wouldn’t go there.

    Reply
  166. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Aaron: Sorry for the delay in responding. For some reason a number of recent posts have gone into the spam folder.

    You are correct, current wholesale prices are low due to recent high inflows into the hydro lakes, however, we buy our electricity on contracts (typically 12m in advance) and therefore don’t see any reduction in our wholesale energy costs.

    You are also correct, our unit prices have risen for low users. This increase is impacted by the need to recover fixed costs (lines and metering mainly) that other retailers recover through fixed daily charges. Overall, we’re confident our prices remain competitive.

    Reply
  167. Aaron

    Thanks Ari,

    I understand the need to recover costs. However, I thought Orion had a pure maximum demand charge for Retailers at the GXP? So no fixed charges to be recovered from any users for line charges if you are half hour metering them.

    Why not use this (like their weekend rebate) to your advantage for Christchurch users rather than averaging us with the dinosaur distribution companies?

    Reply
  168. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Aaron: that is not quite correct. Orion charging is quite complex. They have a peak period demand c/kW/day charge – this is essentially a fixed daily charge, but unlike other network areas we don’t know exactly how much it will be until after the peak demand period in winter (so we need to predict our fixed daily costs).

    In theory it would be possible to reflect peak demand charges through to residential customers with smart meters – in practice it is nigh on impossible because the peak demand period is not known until after it has happened and because they relate to connections and not customers (creates challenges if a property has a new occupant). These (and other) issues may be solvable in the medium term, but in the short term we really need to treat these costs just like fixed daily charges.

    Reply
  169. Aaron

    Hi there,

    We are going to be completely rebuilt due to the earthquake and I read that Southern Response are pre wiring all their new built homes to take import and export metering.

    Is there any information on PV and the costs/ benefits. I would contemplate putting some on the roof of our new home if the payback is not measured in decades.

    Also how powershop and Orion deal with exported energy and the rates applicable. eg: is it net off at retail or wholesale or some other deal.

    Thanks

    Reply
  170. Ari Sargent Post author

    @Aaron:

    I’m not really up to date on the cost/benefit of PV, but I do know that costs have dropped a lot in recent years. I would suggest that you contact Right House (http://www.righthouse.co.nz) to discuss options, costs and benefits.

    Unfortunately, Powershop is not currently set up to be able to handle import/export metering so we can’t supply PV sites yet. This is something that we are working on, but we haven’t thought about commercial terms yet. If/when we can supply PV sites we’ll be sure to announce it, so keep an eye out.

    Reply
  171. Aaron

    Thanks Ari,

    The tariffs for PV are pretty important to decide if its worth going ahead. I’ve seen $8k for 2.5 kW indicative PV pricing but if there is no export net off that is getting a bit expensive.

    If we do go ahead it will be end of this year/ start of next sort of time frame so hopefully I wont have to switch retailers to put PV in. :)

    Reply
  172. Mike Hopkirk

    Hi Ari,

    If/When you are able to handle PV (or other small system) generation sites where would you be likely to announce that?

    Website ? MSMedia? targeted email?

    Any idea of an approximate timeframe?

    Would it be possible to get some indication or provide some feedback into the system/commercial directions you may be thinking of??

    I’m rather interested in Powershops electricity retailing aims and marketing model but for me it now needs to have some provision for small systems generation…

    Late last year I used some time and thought and ended up sending some feed-forward on possible packages/schemes that might be workable in line with PowerShops existing system to support generative customers (producing consumers? (:-)
    through your standard support/contact channels (emailed). – I’m hoping there was something there that made it through to someone for examination and consideration…

    Generally you might want to take a closer look at PV technology feeding into electricity retail.
    Long term and with current pricing trends its definitely disruptive..

    Here the current ROI for PV is pushing 10% (at a reasonably conservative estimate) and various interested parties seem to concur (varying on assumptions) that grid parity pricing (retail at least) has been well an truly achieved…
    For example (my relatively pessimistic) calcs on my system put lifetime cost vs lifetime output at about 15c/kWhr.

    Reply
  173. John

    Hey I’ve just had my recent reminder from you to top up my account, only to find that my power prices are over $2/Kwh.
    I understand that we are a low user and that you are trying to recover the fixed network charges, and have tolerated the per KWh price going from 20c/KWh to 90c/Kwh but holy overcharge batman, at that rate our yearly power bill will be over $6000 (for an average of 300 Kwh a year), and as soon as we start using any power I’m going to need a mortgage to pay for it because our previous low usage will push the per unit charge through the roof.
    I also think its pretty poor that I had to find out your new pricing at the time I logged on to purchase last months power, only to find that in a month the rate had doubled and then some!!!
    You REALLY need to look at your pricing model, racking up the per unit charge based on a small sample of the year is producing a really bad result (for me, the potential profits for you are astounding). I will be FAR better off going to a competitor (any one at all) and paying a fixed/variable tariff.

    Reply
  174. Melanie Cameron

    Hi John,
    I can’t find you in our system under this email address – could you please tell me your last name, or you Powershop account number? And then I can look into this for you.
    From the info you’ve given me – 300 Kwh per year is very, very low usage. Is this supply to something other than your main property? Ie. a shed, or bach or something?
    At usage that low, the unit price does sound about right. But your maths doesn’t quite add up – from my calculations 300 Kwh per year, at $2/Kwh is around a $600 bill for the year, not $6000.
    You’re right about having to recover fixed costs – but with Powershop we only recover some of those fixed costs based on the actual units you use, plus low users get a small discount.
    If you were to change to a competitor and pay the fixed/variable tariff, you will pay the fixed charge every day (lets say 30c a day, to illustrate), then you will pay the variable for power usage on top of that.
    The difference is that if you use zero units in a day with Powershop, your daily bill will be $0. If you were on a fixed-term contract, and you use zero units in a day with a competitor, you will be charged $0.30.
    I’m not sure that you would be better off with a competitor. but you may want to shop around and compare prices on switchme, and we encourage you to do so.
    This stuff article that was published yesterday offers some good insights into industry pricing, and may be worth a read: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/8548532/People-missing-out-on-cheap-power

    Reply
  175. John

    You are quite right at a yearly average of a shade over 1 kwh per day it’ll be closer to $700 than $7000, mind like a steel trap me!

    Yes this is a bach, and hence very seasonal.

    My main issue is that your calculator indicates that you are unitising the daily charge over a consumption estimate based on the past three months, However if our usage over the previous three months tends to zero (like in winter), the unitised daily charge will tend to infinity, so when we start using power again (next spring) any power we do use will be at a very high rate indeed! To make matters worse we won’t find out until we come to pay for the last months power.

    This is exactly what we have seen in the increase in rate from last month to this month.

    Wouldn’t it be fairer to unitise the daily charge over a longer period (say a year) to remove the effect of seasonality?

    Reply
  176. Ari Sargent Post author

    @John: up until around October last year we did unitise over annual consumption, but this meant that fixed cost recovery was “out of season” for typical (ie. most) customers. We shifted to 3m as it helped with most customers, but low/seasonal users like yourself are now experiencing volatile prices. We obviously have a floor on consumption to avoid infinite prices, but they can get very high on a per unit basis. What we are looking at is a “minimum monthly spend” for properties like yours, where you pay, say, $50 minimum per month to allow us to recover fixed costs while also making your prices less volatile. We’re hoping to have this in before October. If you do find you get stung by high prices in Spring, let us know and we’ll take a look at your account for you.

    Reply

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