Pensioner becomes voice of consumers

The Oxford Times: Graham Rose wants to achieve a better service Buy this photo Graham Rose wants to achieve a better service

GRAHAM Rose has the ear of a major electrical supplier after a raft of complaints about power cuts.

The Appleton resident, 67, has been appointed the voice of the consumer on a panel run by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD).

The semi-retired business consultant was named a “local community representative” after complaining of eight power cuts from May to July.

The Park Lane resident will now be speaking up for people across central and southern England at quarterly meetings.

He said: “Last summer I was in touch with the company regularly over the power cuts in the village and I think they thought in the end it would be better to have me involved with the group.”

The SSEPD customer voice groups are made up of nine representatives from SSEPD and local stakeholder groups.

“The group meets every three months but if people have concerns they can contact me and I will raise them at the earliest possible opportunity,” said Mr Rose.

Communication between customers and the firm is key, he said. “If people in rural communities are on low-voltage systems SSEPD does not know those residents have had a power cut until they phone up.

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“Sometimes the system can go down for a minute if a crow flies into a power line, and then your alarm clock won’t go off, so a one-minute outage can sometimes be as bad as one that last several hours. I want SSEPD to provide a better service and I want them to invest more money in the system as a result.”

Replacing old kit with new technology such as smart meters – which send information to the company – is vital, he said.

The father-of-two – who has lived with wife Judith in the village for 42 years – said: “Until smart meters are brought in, the company will continue not to know in rural areas when there has been an outage.

“SSEPD also has a very good mobile phone app which shows where all the power cuts are and what the progress is but they have not promoted it properly.”

A spokesman for SSEPD said: “By placing the needs of our customers and stakeholders at the centre of our business, we can ensure that our distribution network is fit for purpose. To help us do this we have formed two customer voice groups.

“Concerned about the frequent power cuts in his rural area, Mr Rose would like to see clearer communication on the reason for power cuts and the timetable to rectify faults. He also raised his concern for scale of SSEPD investment and the need to have the latest technology.”

The firm yesterday announced a price freeze until 2016.

Mr Rose said: “The news from SSE plc of the separation of distribution and retail makes sense. The consumer is confused as to who they are actually dealing with. I only hope the suggestion it will freeze prices until 2016 will be passed through to the retailers.”

s Contact Mr Rose on graham rose1946@yahoo.com

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