Transalta losing PR war in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, NZ, November 08, 2000 (PR WorldWire)à‚–Multinational power retailer Transalta is losing the PR war in New Zealand, but professes to be unconcerned at growing public anger at its unapproachable attitude.

Despite deregulation of the electricity retail industry in New Zealand over the past few years, Canadian-owned Transalta is one of the largest suppliers in the market.

However, it seems that it’s customer service and communications haven’t kept up with the growth. One mother spent three weeks trying to get through to the company’s call centre after her power was disconnected. Her case was taken up by her MP, Tim Barnett, who claims to receive around 100 complaints each week.

Competitors like TrustPower have been quick to see that while bad PR is losing Transalta customers, good PR, rather than simply marketing, might win them back.

Until now, energy retailers have competed on price, however TrustPower recently held a protest meeting aimed at letting consumers vent their anger at Transalta. Other competitors have begun to emphasise their external communications efforts.

Barnett says the only way he can get a response from Transalta is through external relations manager Mervyn English. The names of senior executives are unknown to most people, and they seem determined to remain anonymous. “No doubt this is an expensively devised public relations strategy, but to consumers it looks like arrogance”, one commentator said.

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