Friday, June 01, 2007

Mercury Energy's public relations cock-up


Oh dear. The reason the Government has waded into the story of the death of Mangere woman Folole Muliaga, is because this story is the quickest story to come out of New Zealand and have such an impact in the International media this year and Helen Clark is worried about NZ's image.

That's all.

More than 605 articles have been written on the tragedy, published in The Guardian, ABC, CBS, The Times, South China Morning Post, and the BBC. CNN has not one but two stories and a video.

Mercury disconnects power for an outstanding amount of $168.40 and then its executives go an present a cheque for $10,000 to the family to express its condoleances.

Well actually, an account dated May 23 showed they owed a total of $304.40, but $136.00 of that was not due until June 13, leaving $168.40 overdue. It's not overdue now.But crucially, the entire sum of $304.40 is listed as "amount due if received after 13 June". It is not unreasonable, surely, to read that as meaning that that, full, sum could be paid after June 13. It also showed the family had made two payments last month, $61.90 on May 2 and $45 on May 18, just two weeks ago.

But really, this is a big PR cockup from Mercury Energy. It knows that the family was trying to make payments. Despite the gift, and expression of sorrow, Mercury has not expressed responsibility as it says it has done no wrong. That may be so, but if it has done no wrong, why the visit and the ten grand? And why the "no comment" about things they can comment on? Why not the standard 'waiting for the results of the investigation before commenting' much earlier in the piece rather than outright saying they are 'in the clear'? Why the defence of its actions? If it has done no wrong there is nothing to defend. And furthermore, why didn't Mercury even have the family's current phone number so that the family could have received that automated phone call after the bill was sent?

If Mercury wasn't responsible, at least they could do a better job with its public relations.

Mighty River Power, owner of Mercury, blamed the Privacy Act yesterday for preventing medical authorities from giving crucial information to power companies. Now people are canceling Mercury accounts and going to the competition. But if they switch their gads account back to Mercury Energy before 31 August, they`ll go into the draw to win a $500 travel voucher from Flight Centre

Just as an aside, I wonder if this family had to tithe to their church and if they send money back to Samoa? This family must bear some of the responsibility, if they were as quick to get on the phone to dial 111 as they were getting to the media afterwards, the 605 stories would probably not have been written.

Update
PR woman Jenny Reynish has a column on the PR cockup as well in the Herald

2 comments:

BB said...

This family sat for nearly three hours and watched this woman die..
and now they get $10,000???? They are more responsible for her death than the power company, as is the woman herself for not calling the hospital either.

Anonymous said...

I didn't realise that they hadn't phoned for an ambulance.
I hope they didn't tithe or bought ciggies or lotto or takeaways or or..
before not paying the lekky bill.

Apart from that I blame THE NATIONAL PARTY.
We are a country of 4 million only!
How many electricity companies do we have?
All with board of directors etc etc.
Power like water is a national resource and shouldn't be owned by anyone else but NZ (US!!)

I blame Max Bradfords setting up this whole system that rorts us ordinary folk.

Imagine if we'd had a nationalised system and a Labour Govt.
No one would be cut off as lekky like water is a needed essential resource.
MikeNZ
MikeNZ