Ombudsman’s Report Shows a Deceptive and Arrogant Hydro One

May 25, 2015

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin issued his report into Hydro One billing and customer service practices, sparked by a record amount of complaints by Ontarians who were facing financial hardship due to Hydro’s mis-billing.

 

“The Ombudsman’s report blows the cover on a monopolistic public corporation that has completely lost its moral compass” – MPP McDonell commented. “When Hydro changed its billing and customer information system, it focused on hiding the new system’s problems and glitches from the public eye while continuing to treat its captive customers with contempt. The culture of obstruction, as per the Ombudsman’s report, extended even to Hydro’s relationship with key regulatory bodies such as the Ontario Energy Board, the Ministry of Energy and the Ombudsman’s office. Many residents and businesses in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry have faced financial ruin due to Hydro’s mismanagement of their billing and collection practices, however the corporation refused to acknowledge its problems or cooperate with customers for months until the investigation was officially announced.”

 

The Ombudsman identifies several failures by Hydro One that led to the corporation losing public trust.

 

“Hydro One forgot that it exists to serve its customers, not itself” – MPP McDonell summarized. “The report highlights deficiencies in call centre staff training as well as a corporate focus on burying bad news under piles of PR gibberish rather than tackling issues head-on as they arose. Public corporations should not wait until customers feel no alternative other than to go to the media for action. They should take proactive steps to ensure bills are timely, accurate and prevent customers from having their life savings withdrawn without warning or justification.”

 

With the upcoming sale of 60% of Hydro One assets, the Government is withdrawing the corporation from Ombudsman and Legislative oversight.

 

“I find it appalling that the Liberal government would even consider removing Hydro One from Ombudsman oversight in the light of this report,” MPP McDonell concluded. “Millions of Ontarians have no choice but Hydro One for their energy needs. It is clear that the corporation needs a strong, independent watchdog to monitor the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Ombudsman’s report. For instance, one of the recommendations is for Hydro One to provide the Ombudsman with a progress report on implementing his recommendations in six months. By that time, if the Liberals have their way, Hydro One would be able to ignore this obligation altogether”.