In the July to September 2012 quarter, 2,183 customers raised Credit as their main issue—down 29% from 3,056 customers in the July to September 2011 quarter.
Credit issues—energy disconnection, water restriction, debt collection, payment difficulties—highlight the capacity of customers to pay their bills and stay on supply.
Trends in energy disconnection
In the July to September 2012 quarter, we received 1,100 cases about credit-related energy disconnection. Overall, this was down 35% from 1,699 cases in the July to September 2011 quarter. Cases about actual energy disconnection were down 35%. Cases about imminent energy disconnection were also down 35%.
There are, however, signs that credit-related disconnection cases are on the rise. Comparing the July to September 2012 quarter with the April to June 2012 quarter, cases about actual electricity disconnection were up from 204 to 225, cases about actual gas disconnection were up from 191 to 216 and cases about imminent gas disconnection were up from 161 to 209. Compared to July to September 2011, cases about imminent electricity disconnection were down this quarter from 531 to 450. In the October to December 2012 quarter, cases for all four of those categories were up compared with those in the July to September 2012 quarter.
Trends in our cases about 'actual' disconnection of electricity or natural gas and restriction of water
Trends in our cases about 'imminent' disconnection of electricity or natural gas and restriction of water
Trends in wrongful disconnection payment (WDP) assessments
A customer whose bills averaged $500 a quarter was facing imminent disconnection of her electricity supply for a disputed bill of $10,500. In December 2011, when the bill arrived, the customer queried it with the retailer. She was told that because there had been an error, the account would be put on hold and the problem would be corrected. Despite this undertaking, the customer continued to receive overdue notices. She said she also followed up regularly seeking to have the error corrected. In April 2012, when the problem hadn’t been addressed, she called EWOV.
Responding to our investigation of the customer’s complaint, the retailer advised that a meter exchange at the customer’s property in 2009 was the underlying cause of the high bill —because two meters remained registered for the address. The retailer said that, in generating the December 2011 bill, its billing system had reverted to the old meter (unused for two years). As a result, the customer’s entire account was rebilled—including an overbilling of $8,824.78 for 15 days in December 2009.
The energy retailer apologised to the customer. It credited her account with $8,817.77 to reverse all of the incorrect changes and made a customer service payment of $781.44 in recognition of the inconvenience caused. The total credit of $9,599.21 left the customer owing $1,272.21, which she was given extra time to pay. She was satisfied with this outcome.