EWOV received 34,524 cases in 2017-18—an increase of 8% from last year.
From record levels four years ago, case volumes have fallen and remain relatively stable.
Energy and water companies have been doing a better job handling relatively straightforward complaints - however, a lot of customers still needed EWOV's help to get their complaint resolved.
Over the 2017/2018 period:
- Electricity cases were up 11%.
- Gas cases were up 7%.
- Water cases were down 8%.
The most common complaints were about billing and credit.
High bills were the top issue overall—87% about energy, followed by disconnection or restriction for arrears—97% about energy; and debt collection or credit default listing—96% about energy.
Affordability is a continuing concern.
One in three customers contacted us worried about being able to pay for their energy or water.
The average arrears in our residential complaint investigations was $2,698, up from $2,521.
473 residential customers contacted us with arrears of over $3,000.
We have also seen a 41% increase in provision cases.
Provision is about the connection of a property to the energy or water network.
'New connection' cases more than doubled—to make it the fourth biggest issue overall.
'Existing connection' cases were up 9%—making it the fifth biggest issue overall.
98% of provision cases were lodged by energy customers.
EWOV's 2018 Annual Report is on our website at ewov.com.au/2018. It also includes:
- case studies
- cases for industry sectors and individual energy and water companies
- our performance against key performance indicators
- information on our new embedded network jurisdiction from July 2018.
Across 2017 and 2018 one in three customers contacted EWOV due to concerns about paying for energy or water.
The top issues were:
- high bills
- disconnection or restriction for debt; and
- debt collection or credit default listing.
The average amount owed on bills was $2,698 with over 400 customers owing more than $3,000.
We helped negotiate 1,327 payment plans for customers to manage these costs.
If you are experiencing difficulty paying your bills, contact EWOV, so we can help you.
The Energy and Water Ombudsman of Victoria or EWOV is concerned by the sales tactics of energy retailers such as:
- Misleading and high-pressure sales; and
- transferring customers without their consent.
Energy retailers must:
- not pressure customers
- provide clear, truthful and easy-to understand information; and
- provide customers the contract terms at the time of the sale.
Customers need to provide their explicit, informed consent to the sale and they have a 10 day cooling off period.
EWOV’s website has more information about consumer rights and obligations.