Vulnerable Consumers: Calling 111 during a power outage

During a power outage you may not be able to call 111 from your landline because it relies on power to work. This is the case for all landlines using either Fibre or Fixed Wireless, and all our Home Line Plus Copper connections (if you’ve got a Home Line Basic Copper connection this can still work with no power, provided your phone device doesn’t require power too).

If you are registered on our Vulnerable Consumers Register, then we will arrange to put in place an alternative means for you to call 111 in emergencies. This alternative means will not cost consumers registered on our Vulnerable Consumers Register. 

We’ll be getting in touch with by 1 May 2021 to let them know how to apply for registration.

This initiative is driven by the Commerce Commission 111 Contact Code, which requires operators to provide Vulnerable Consumers an alternative means to contact 111 by 1 August 2021.

Who are Vulnerable Consumers?

To qualify as a Vulnerable Consumer under the 111 Contact Code you must:

  • Be a consumer of a retail landline service with 2degrees; and
  • Demonstrate you are at particular risk of requiring the 111 emergency service due to health, safety or disability reasons; and
  • Not have a mobile (on any provider) that can be used as an alternative at home or an alternative power source; and
  • Not have another means for contacting the 111 emergency service that can be operated for an eight hour period in the event of a power outage.

How do I apply to be a Vulnerable Consumer?

We are currently putting in place a process for customers to apply to be a Vulnerable Consumer with 2degrees under the 111 Contact Code. We will be directly advising relevant 2degrees consumers of this process later this year (by 1 May 2021). We will also update this page with details so your first port of call for information should be this webpage.

Under this process you or someone on your behalf will be able to apply to be registered on our Vulnerable Consumer Register. You’ll need to demonstrate that you’re a Vulnerable Consumer by confirming that you do not have access to an alternative mobile phone as an alternative to your landline or an alternative power source and providing sufficient evidence that you are particularly at risk of requiring 111.

This may be done by providing the contact details of a qualifying nominated person to support your application, for example a health practitioner, a police officer, a currently registered social worker, a lawyer or a family court judge.

We will be providing more information on this process – PLEASE DO NOT SEND US SENSITIVE PERSONAL MEDICAL INFORMATION NOW. 

What happens if I’m a Vulnerable Consumer?

We will be contacting our relevant landline customers by 1 May 2021 to outline the process for applying to be a Vulnerable Consumer.

If your application to be a Vulnerable Consumer is approved we must supply you with either a mobile phone, or an alternative means of contacting 111 that can be operated for at least 8 hours during a power outage, at no cost to you, by 1 August 2021.

We will not cease to supply your landline service because of your Vulnerable Consumer status.

Which fixed telecommunications services might not work in a power outage?

If there’s a power outage any landline requiring power will not work (unless you have a backup power generator). This includes landlines using Fibre, Wireless Broadband and Copper technologies where power is required, and includes all 2degrees’ Home Phone Plus plans.

Other devices this will affect include:

  • cordless phones
  • or house alarms or similar devices which don’t have built in batteries.

You may have selected this service if you have a monitored / medical alarm at your house.

What is an alternative means of contacting 111 emergency services in the event of a power failure?

As an alternative to call 111 we suggest you should always keep a fully charged mobile phone close by for emergencies during power outages. Installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) will also protect your telecommunications services in the event of a power outage. 

If you don’t have a mobile phone, or another alternative means of contacting 111 (such as battery back-up or solar power), and you’re at particular risk of requiring the 111 emergency service via your 2degrees landline, then you may qualify to be a 2degrees vulnerable consumer and be added to our Vulnerable Consumer Register for the purposes of the Commerce Commission 111 Contact Code.

We will be determining the appropriate alternative means of contacting 111 for our Vulnerable Consumers depending on their specific circumstances.

Disputes and complaints

We will be in touch by 1 May 2021 to outline the steps that our customers need to take to register as a Vulnerable Consumer with 2degrees. This will include information on how to raise a dispute with us if you are not satisfied with the decision regarding your status as a Vulnerable Consumer or how your case has been handled.

Referring your case to an independent authority

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your case, then you can refer your complaint to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolutions Scheme (TDR). TDR provides a free and independent service for residential and small business customers; engaging with 2degrees to find a resolution on your behalf. The account holder can raise a dispute with the TDR on their own behalf or that of another member of the same residential household.

If you believe 2degrees is actively negating its responsibilities under the 111 Contact Code you can contact the Commerce Commission directly at contact@comcom.govt.nz. Please note their primary course of action will be to refer the matter to the TDR.

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