Staff shortages are the cause of long delays delivering LPG gas to Auckland householders, says Vector.

BusinessDesk has had complaints from Vector customers who say they have faced ongoing delays for months despite ordering bottled gas well in advance. They have had to ration hot water, heating and cooking in the coldest months of the year with Vector unable to say when it would be able to meet its obligations.

A spokesman for Vector’s Ongas business said the company recognised it was “hugely frustrating” for customers who relied on their LPG gas for essential services, especially during this colder weather.

The reason was not a lack of gas, but the staff to deliver cylinders in some areas.

“In recent months, while we continue to meet our delivery targets in many regions, it has been especially challenging in Auckland,” the spokesman said.

One customer in Mt Albert, Justine Sachs, said the problem has been ongoing since April.

“Our deliveries have been consistently late and we’ve almost run out a number of times now … to be honest, the communication from the company has been very poor. They’ve indicated there is a supply issue but haven’t given much detail or really let us know what’s going on and what the ETA is,” Sachs said.

“Our current order was supposed to arrive on June 2 and still hasn’t come. We’ve had no communication from them and are now on the verge of having no hot water or stove.”

Livid customer

Another customer in Kingsland, who did not wish to be named, said they had requested new 45kg gas bottles at the beginning of July. They still had no idea when it would arrive.

“They said on the phone it was driver shortage so they can’t deliver bottles,” the Ongas customer said.

The household with young children is rationing hot water and cooking, and is grateful they do not rely on gas for heating at the moment.

Vector’s spokesman said since covid-19 border restrictions, “we have seen increasing pressure on the labour market for some staff, with the problem exacerbated in Auckland due to large infrastructure projects, and reduced immigration.

“We know that this is a challenge experienced by many industries at the moment. We have implemented several initiatives to help attract and retain staff, including upskilling from other areas of our business, making it easier and quicker to apply for roles, actively targeting talent, a training programme for drivers, and increased pay increments reflecting experience and seniority. We are also working with partners in the transport industry to provide additional support.”

Vector is majority owned by Entrust on behalf of Auckland consumers. A current job ad on Seek for an Auckland driver-filler is offering $26 an hour.

Other major suppliers of bottled LPG gas said they were not facing the same problems.

Genesis said it was facing the usual winter spike in demand, but they were handling this okay and it was pretty much business as usual.

Rockgas (part of the First Gas Group) general manager Jo Crawford said as usual for winter the company was experiencing a spike in demand for LPG bottles.

“At times this can place pressure on our delivery times but this is due to high demand and is not driver related. Additionally, there is no shortage of LPG we import and take supply from domestic sources,” Crawford said.