A sector you trust less than banks

Only 39 per cent of Australians trust their energy company – down from 50 per cent in 2017 – according to an Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) review.

The 2018 national retail energy competition report also revealed that Australians feel they get better value for money from banks, water, and phone and internet providers, than from their power companies.

And when it comes to value for money, consumers rank energy companies lower than the banking, water, broadband and mobile sectors. Energy is the only sector to have had decreased satisfaction over the past year.

The report also found that:

  • Satisfaction with the level of competition fell from 49 to 43 per cent, and value for money fell by four points for both electricity and gas to 44 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.
  • A high level of discounting was an issue because discounts did not start from a standard base across retailers.
  • Across the 5940 electricity and gas market offers in March 2018, 57 per cent had at least one conditional discount and 25 per cent had at least one unconditional discount. “It’s difficult for customers to understand the significance of one retailer’s discounting level compared to others,” the report said.
  • More consumers were switching retailers and using comparator websites to help navigate the complexity of the market. “Commercial comparator sites can help people navigate the market but could be more transparent about the number of offers they compare,” the report said.

Switching rates were found to be highest in Victoria (27 per cent) and south-east Queensland (25 per cent). The switching rate in New South Wales is 19 per cent, South Australia is 16 per cent and the Australian Capital Territory is six per cent.

Are there moves for reforms in the sector?

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says energy retailers are on notice and must give customers a better deal.

“The companies have not served their customers well. They have a lot of explaining to do,” he said, adding that he was waiting for a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the network and energy pricing. The report is due to be delivered later this month.

“I’m not going to foreshadow any particular action the Government may or may not be taking other than to say the companies are on notice,” Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

In YourLifeChoices’ Retirement Income and Financial Literacy Survey 2018, members were asked for their views on energy companies and plans. The word ‘outrageous’ was used by many of the 6000-plus respondents.

Some of your comments included:

“Energy prices are outrageous; more support should be given to aged pensioners.”

“Energy prices are extremely overpriced and, as such, I don’t use heating or cooling in winter or summer. There should be some rebates, incentives or supplements to assist the families struggling to stay afloat.”

“Decrease of energy prices, increase of rebates! It is getting increasingly difficult for older people to keep up with the high tech websites where one would find all the hidden advantages of rebates.”

“Increase solar tariff payments to solar panels owners by the energy suppliers. Rebates or incentives for battery systems to supplement existing residential solar installations.”

Do you find it difficult to compare energy plans? Do you believe you are getting the best deal available? Do you have solar, and are you happy with it?

Related articles:
Energy cop savages companies
Expect more pain on gas prices
Calls to fix pension poverty

Written by Janelle Ward

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