“No excuse”: Ergon’s appeal to abusive customers

Ergon Energy workers with hats outside (abusive)
Ergon Energy workers

Fed up with abusive behaviour from customers towards field crews, meter readers and call centre operators, Ergon Energy and Energex are reminding Queenslanders that everyone deserves to feel safe at work and personal attacks will not be tolerated.  

Executive general manager operations Paul Jordon said crews working on the electricity network had enough hazards to focus on without having to worry about abusive customers.  

Related article: Ergon urges extra care around powerlines after incident

“It is completely unacceptable that people who are just doing their job have been threatened with weapons, assaulted, spat at, had vicious dogs released on them or been verbally abused by members of the community. There is no excuse for abuse. 

“Our crews strive to keep their communities safe during storms, floods, fires, vehicle accidents and business as usual when they are maintaining and upgrading the network. 

“It’s not much to ask for some common courtesy from customers instead of being yelled at or having things thrown at you from passing vehicles when you are doing high-risk work,” Jordon said.  

Since 2019 there have been 302 incidents reported by Ergon and Energex employees and contractors, including assaults, attempted assaults and threatening behaviour from customers, including death threats.   

“In the worst-case scenarios, we’ve had to get police involved and these types of incidents can have a lasting effect on the victims. Even when the threat of violence does not lead to physical injuries, it can have a serious impact on their mental health.  

“We have identified 783 sites that our crews are unable to attend without a police escort because of the customer’s previous behaviour or threats,” Jordon said. 

Executive general manager customer Michael Dart said abusive customers were also taking their toll on call centre staff. 

“We have a dedicated team who answer the phones 24/7 and provide lifesaving advice to customers when there are serious electrical faults, like fallen powerlines or shocks and tingles.  

“While most people are courteous and reasonable, some of the callers they encounter are incredibly threatening and downright abusive. 

“We understand that people can get stressed and frustrated at times, and we are always willing to listen to their concerns and complaints, but there is no excuse for abuse,” he said. 

Dart encouraged customers with concerns to use the online feedback form rather than attack individuals.

Related article: Energy retailer customer service ‘still below average’

“We teach our kids not to resort to verbal or physical attacks when they are dealing with problems in the playground and the same applies in the community and the workplace. 

“Whether you’re a power worker, a paramedic or a pharmacy assistant, you deserve to feel safe at work and, as customers, we all have a role to play in ensuring the people who are delivering a whole range of services in our communities feel safe and supported,” he said. 

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