Are you being overcharged for energy?

If you believe your energy company is charging you too much for your usage, you are not alone.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of consumers believe their energy company could be making big errors with their invoice and adding incorrect costs to their bill.

Energy comparison service comparethemarket.com.au commissioned an independentsurvey of a nationally representative panel of 1010 Australians to look at consumer sentiment around their energy bills.

The survey found that many consumers are feeling the pinch and believe their power bills should drop.

Over a third (37 per cent) believe rates should be at least 20 per cent lower. A further 28 per cent think energy rates should drop 30 per cent lower.

Incredibly, more than one in 10 Australians (11 per cent) said their energy bill added up to $500 a quarter.

Spokesperson for comparethemarket.com.au, Rod Attrill, said it was crucial for consumers to question the total charges listed on their bill and become familiar with the standard information included, such as tariffs and extra fees.

Since 1 January, energy retailers including Origin, Energy Australia and AGL lowered their standing offer prices, with people on these types of plans receiving an automatic discount of up to 15 per cent.

On top of this, providers can now offer a discount for concession customers, shaving 10 to 15 per cent off usage charges.

What to do if you suspect an issue
If you think your energy bill is too high, before contacting your provider, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you use more energy in this particular billing period? (Consider whether you used an air conditioner or heater more than usual due to the weather or by having extra guests.)
  • Was this bill an estimate of the amount of energy you have used?
  • Did you owe an outstanding amount from the previous billing period?
  • Did your retailer notify you of an energy price change?

Talk to your energy provider directly if you are still unsure as to why your bill has increased in cost. Speak calmly and have your bill in front of you and even a couple of examples from previous quarters to compare the costs. In many cases, a phone call can fix the problem. The caller must be the primary account holder, otherwise the provider won’t be able to speak to you.

If you’re not happy with the answer, you can ask to speak to a manager or put your concerns in writing – that way, your energy retailer would be aware of your problem. You also now have a record of your complaint.

If you are still having issues resolving the problem, you can contact the energy ombudsman scheme in your area. It can offer free, independent services to help resolve the problem.

Do you think you are being overcharged for your energy use? Are you too loyal to your energy provider?

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Written by Ben

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