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About us

Common questions about the complaint process can be found on the Start a complaint page.

What is EWOV?

The Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV) is a not-for-profit dispute resolution scheme that helps Victorian customers resolve complaints with their electricity, gas (including LPG) and water companies. An ombudsman is another name for an independent service that investigates and resolves complaints. We’re free to Victorian customers and we’re independent, meaning we’re not on anyone’s side. We look at the facts and circumstances of every complaint to make a fair and reasonable decision as quickly as possible.

Visit the Who we are page for more information.


What can I complain about?

Before you contact us, you must try to resolve your complaint with your company first, or attempt to contact them. If you’ve contacted your company and can’t resolve the issue, contact us about looking into your complaint.

You can start a complaint about most electricity, gas and water issues you have with your company. Complaints can be started by filling in our online form, calling us on 1800 500 509 (free call) on business days from 8.30am – 5pm, reaching us on live chat from 8.30am – 4pm on business days, emailing us at ewovinfo@ewov.com.au or faxing us on 1800 500 459 (free fax).

Most complaints are resolved within 28 days. Simple disputes can be resolved more quickly, while more complex issues can take a bit longer.

Visit the Start a complaint page for more information on the complaints we can and can’t look into.


Can I complain on behalf of someone?

Yes, if you have their permission to act on their behalf. You can make a complaint on behalf of another person, such as a client, neighbour or family member. You can also make a complaint on behalf of a business.

If you’re complaining on behalf of a family member or friend, they can authorise this over the phone.

If you’re a financial counsellor, solicitor, accountant or other advocate, we usually need your client’s written permission. They can give this by filling out an Authority to Act form.

Individuals

Businesses

Members of Parliament/Electorate Officers

Read our Fact sheet: Acting on behalf of someone else with an EWOV complaint for more information.


Is EWOV a regulator or a government body?

We’re not part of the government. We’re not a regulator. We can’t change government policy or the price of electricity, gas or water. We’re a not-for-profit independent company.

Energy and water companies that fall within our scope must become a member of EWOV. Customers of those companies can come to us for free with enquiries or complaints about those companies. The company is then charged a fee by us for dealing with those enquiries or complaints.

Visit the Who we are page for more information about EWOV and our structure.


What rules do companies follow?

In Victoria, electricity and gas retailers, and water companies, must follow energy and water legislation as well as codes and guidelines set by the Essential Services Commission. You can read about customer and company rights and responsibilities on the Essential Services Commission’s website.

The Australian Energy Regulator largely regulates electricity and gas distributors and networks, including pricing, while codes such as the Distribution Code are set by the Essential Services Commission.

How do I get my electricity, gas or water connected?

There are different processes for getting electricity, gas and water connected at an existing property and getting connected to supply at a new property.

You’ll need to get in touch with your companies in advance to make sure the connections happen in time for when you move in.

Visit our Connecting and transferring page for more information.


What’s the difference between a retailer and a distributor?

Retailers bill you for electricity and gas. They pay distributors to transport the electricity or gas to your property.

Distributors build and maintain the local networks of electricity poles and wires, gas pipes and other equipment to deliver electricity or gas to you. They're also responsible for reading your meter and sending retailers the meter data for billing.

Most water corporations in Victoria are both retailers and distributors — they send bills and maintain water networks.


How do I find the best energy deal?

Electricity and gas

In Victoria, you have the option to choose your electricity and gas retail providers. Victorian Energy Compare is an independent comparison tool for finding electricity and gas offers. Each electricity and gas company has different prices and incentives. You can save money by finding the best offer for you. If you change your mind, you can cancel within the ten business day cooling-off period.

You can’t choose your electricity distribution company. It’s based on where you live. Try this interactive map to find your electricity distribution company.

If you live in an embedded network, you may have limited options for electricity.

You can find a list of all the electricity and gas companies in Victoria that are members of EWOV on our website.

Visit our Connecting and transferring page for more information.

Water

You can’t choose your water company in Victoria. It’s based on where you live. Each area in Victoria has its own provider of water. Try this interactive map to find your water company.

If you’re a tenant, depending on your lease, you may not need to pay water charges. Or you may only need to pay for the usage and sewage disposal charges. If you’re unsure, ask your rental agent.

Bulk hot water

‘Bulk hot water’ is water that is centrally heated (usually by gas) and delivered to many customers in a multi-dwelling property, such as an apartment building or block of flats. Read our Bulk hot water section below for more information.


What’s a market contract?

A market contract is where you enter into a contract with the electricity or gas retail company of your choice and agree with your signature or a voice phone recording.


What’s a standard contract?

A standard contract is one where you just arrange for an electricity or natural gas connection at your property on the retail company’s standard terms.


What is the Victorian Default Offer?

The Victorian Default Offer is an electricity price set by the Essential Services Commission, not by energy companies. It provides customers access to a fair deal even if they don’t want to search for a deal. Electricity retailers must make it available to customers who request it.


What’s a pay-on-time discount?

Electricity and gas companies will sometimes offer discounts to encourage you to enter a new contract with them. Be careful to check how these discounts apply. They are usually only available when you pay your bill on time. For example, you may receive a 20% discount if you pay a quarterly electricity bill by the due date stated on the bill.

Discounts may only apply to the usage component of your bill (how much electricity or gas you used at your property) rather than the total of your bill (which includes the fixed daily service to property charge). It’s important to check this – so ask your company.

What do I do if I think my bill is wrong?

If you think your bill is wrong, contact your energy or water company to explain it.

There are many reasons that could cause an electricity, gas or water bill to be higher than you expected:

  • The bill could include previous amounts that weren’t paid.
  • The price may have increased.
  • The previous bills could have been based on estimates of your usage, rather than actual meter reads. This can lead to a ‘catch-up’ bill. See the FAQ section below, What’s a catch-up bill?
  • You may have used more energy or water than you usually do due to more time at home, hosting guests, using a new appliance or using appliances more often (sometimes due to seasonal usage).

Visit the Unexpected high bill, Delayed and catch-up bills and Billing mistakes pages for more information.


Why is my bill estimated?

If your energy or water company can’t read your meter for any reason, they may send you an estimated bill. The estimated usage will be either above or below your actual usage.

If it’s above your usage, you’ll pay more than you should and this will be corrected when you get your next bill based on an actual meter read.

If it’s below your usage, you’ll get a catch-up bill, also known as a backbill, at a later date.

Visit the Delayed and catch-up bills page for more information.


Why have my prices gone up?

Electricity and gas contracts usually allow a company to increase its prices during the contract term, after giving you written notice. It might be possible for you to exit your contract without paying an exit fee after being told about a price increase.

LPG pricing is not regulated. Generally speaking, prices are based on the volume and the international wholesale price.


What’s a catch-up bill?

Electricity, gas and water companies can send you a catch-up bill (also known as a backbill) but there are limits on how far back the bill can go. As of 1 January 2021, for electricity and gas, a company can only provide a catch-up bill to customers going back four months when the customer is not at fault, from the date the customer is told about the undercharging. You will be given equal time to pay the bill—so if the catch-up bill covers four months, you must get four months to pay that bill.

There are no limits to how far the company can go back if it's the customer’s fault that the catch-up bill was needed (for example, access to the meter was blocked by a closed gate or dog).

There are different rules if you are a business using more than 40 megawatt hours of electricity a year or 1,000 gigajoules of gas.

Water companies can backbill you for up to 12 months. As with electricity and gas companies, water companies must also give you equal time to pay.

LPG companies can bill a residential customer back for up to nine months. There’s no limit on LPG backbills for business customers.

Visit the Delayed and catch-up bills page for more information.


What’s a service to property charge?

The electricity and gas service to property charge is a fee for accessing an energy distributor's network. These fees are regulated by the Australian Energy Regulator and vary depending on where you live.

Water service charges are flat fees on each property for access to the water and sewerage systems. Service charges can also apply to vacant land not connected to the water system. In some cases, water companies don’t charge if the land isn’t connected to services and doesn’t have any buildings on it. The owner (or landlord) of a residential property pays the water service charges — not the residential tenant.

All units or apartments must pay a water service charge. If there’s only one shared meter, each separately occupied property has to pay its own water service charge. Read our Charges on water bills - metro and Charges on water bills - regional urban fact sheets for more information.


What’s a tariff?

A tariff is the price you pay for each unit of electricity, gas or water used at your property. The tariff rate may increase after you’ve reached a certain amount of energy or water used at your property. For example, an electricity tariff rate might be 14 cents/kWh for the first 400 kWh used during the billing period and then increase to 17 cents/kWh for the electricity used above this volume.

Solar tariffs are different and are explained below in What’s a feed-in tariff?

How do I read my meter?

Reading your meter can help you check your energy or water use. You’ll need to locate the meter, match the unique meter number with what’s on your bill and then read the meter display.

Electricity smart meters record consumption in half-hour blocks and you can read the meter by scrolling through the digital screen or register. Your total electricity usage, off-peak consumption and, if relevant, the amount of solar power sent back to the grid are all listed here. Most smart meters have a sticker on them, explaining what each register measures.

If your electricity bill doesn’t show cumulative readings, you can still check your account by looking at the total electricity use on your smart meter, on the day it’s scheduled to be read. This date will be on your bill. Then take the last meter reading and deduct it from that number. The result should be about the same as the usage you’re being charged for on your bill.

Gas and water meters are generally still read manually and need to be accessible for meter readers. You can simply compare the reading on your bill with that shown on your meter.

Visit the Meters, poles, wires and pipes page for more information.


Why wasn’t my meter read?

For electricity, most people in Victoria now have smart meters that are generally capable of being read remotely through a communications network. This means that meter readers no longer have to visit properties for every reading, and that most meter readings are accurate. However, occasionally there are problems with parts of the data collected from smart meters, resulting in ‘substituted’ reads that are similar to ‘estimated’ meter reads.

For gas and water, meters are still read by meter readers who visit your property. It’s important that you provide clear access to your meter so it can be read. If the meter is blocked, such as by a locked gate or a dog, a read may not be taken and your next bill will be estimated.

Visit the Meters, poles, wires and pipes page for more information.


How often is my meter read?

Most electricity smart meters are capable of being read remotely through a communications network, so that meter readers no longer have to visit your property.

Gas and water meters are still read by meter readers. Meter readers attempt to read gas meters every two months and water meters every three or four months, depending on where you live. Legally, they only have to read meters once every 12 months. If your meter is blocked, for example by a locked gate or dog, then it won’t be read.

Visit the Meters, poles, wires and pipes page for more information.


Is my meter faulty?

You can ask to have a meter tested but if it’s found to be operating correctly, you may have to pay for the test. In our experience, most tested meters are found to be operating correctly and within the Australian Standards.

You may want to try to work out whether something other than a faulty meter is causing your high bills before you ask for a meter test.

Visit the Meters, poles, wires and pipes and Unexpected high bill pages for more information.

What happens if I can’t pay my bill?

If you’re having trouble paying a bill or if you’re experiencing ongoing financial difficulty, contact your electricity, gas or water company. Explain your situation and ask how they can help.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a one-off, an ongoing problem or you just need more time to pay, your company must help you.

Visit the Trouble paying a bill page for more information.


Can the government help with my bills?

If you have a concession card, make sure you give all your details to your electricity, gas or water company to get all available government concessions. The name on the card must match the name of the account holder. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services offers a variety of concessions on electricity, gas and water, subject to conditions.

If you’re having payment problems, you may be able to get a Utility Relief Grant from the Victorian Government. This is a once-off payment which will reduce your account debt.

Visit the Trouble paying a bill page for more information.


What’s a financial counsellor?

A financial counsellor is a qualified community worker who helps people facing money and debt problems.

Their help is free, but there may be a delay before getting an appointment. To find out about financial counsellors in your area, you can ask your electricity, gas or water company. You can also call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visit the Financial Counselling Victoria website.


Why have I been disconnected?

Your electricity or gas may be disconnected or your LPG deliveries stopped or your water flow restricted by your company. This is usually because of debt but it can be for other reasons.

There are rules companies must follow. Visit the Disconnection and restriction page for more information.


Can I get compensation for a disconnection?

There are rules electricity, gas and water companies must follow when disconnecting or restricting your supply. If your company disconnects or restricts your supply without following these rules, they may have to pay you a Wrongful Disconnection Payment (WDP) for electricity and gas or a Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) payment for water.

Visit the Disconnection and restriction page for more information.


Can my power be disconnected if I’m on life support?

Life support equipment is used by customers with certain medical conditions to maintain their health and safety. Examples include oxygen concentrators and kidney dialysis machines.

If you require energy to power life support equipment, contact your company to inform them that you use life support equipment.

There are rules energy companies need to follow. Visit the Disconnection and restriction page for more information.


Why have I been credit default listed?

If you have a debt that you don't pay, your electricity, gas or water company might list a default on your credit file. It can also sell your debt to a debt collector.

There are rules companies need to follow. Visit the Debt collection and credit default listing page for more information.


How do I get a copy of my credit report?

There are credit reporting bodies in Australia. The three main bodies are Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. Contact one of these companies to ask for your credit report.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year, if you’ve been refused credit in the last 90 days or if you’re asking for your file to be corrected.

Visit the Debt collection and credit default listing page for more information.


How do I fix my credit report?

If you think there has been a mistake, call your company and explain the issue. They must discuss what has happened, even if they’ve already sold or default listed the debt. Keep a record of who you spoke to and what they agreed to do and when. You should also keep copies of any letters, emails or text messages.

Visit the Debt collection and credit default listing page for more information.


How can I use less energy and water?

Using less electricity, gas and water can lower your bills. If you’re finding it difficult to pay your bill and understand your energy or water use, your company can offer you a free energy or water audit. This might be done over the phone or, with your agreement, at your home.

Heating units, air conditioners, fridges, clothes dryers and hot water systems are home appliances that typically use the most energy. It’s important to check these appliances are working properly and are being used efficiently.

Visit the Sustainability Victoria website for energy saving tips.

What’s a planned outage?

Sometimes, electricity, gas and water companies need to undertake planned works on their network (such as poles, wires, pipes, meters, transformers, substations, pits) to maintain a safe and reliable supply. They need to tell customers in writing about a planned supply outage, including details of when it will happen and how long it will last.

Also, to protect the electricity grid, sometimes electricity distributors ‘load shed’. Load shedding means that customers are disconnected for a short period of time to reduce demand on the electricity grid. This helps prevent blackouts and supply outages. Load shedding usually happens on very hot days when the electricity grid is under pressure.

Visit the Outages and power surges page for more information.


Can I get compensation for a power outage?

Although outages are inconvenient, electricity distributors usually don’t offer compensation for them. If you experience many outages or were off-supply for a long time, you might receive a Guaranteed Service Level (GSL) payment in recognition of poor service. If you qualify, the GSL payment is made automatically (you don't have to apply for it).

Where the power outage was outside the control of the distributor (such as due to a bushfire or storm) the distributor may be exempt from paying a GSL.

If your damage or loss is more than the GSL amount, you can lodge a compensation claim with your distributor. Your distributor will assess whether compensation is payable or not.

Visit the Outages and power surges page for more information.


Can I get compensation for an electricity surge?

Low voltage or high voltage incidents are called unauthorised voltage variations. Where there's an unauthorised voltage variation and you experience loss or damage as a result, you may be able to claim compensation from your electricity distributor.

Contact your distribution company and ask for a compensation claim form. You’ll need evidence to support your claim, so keep records such as receipts and photos.

Visit the Outages and power surges page for more information.


Can I get compensation for gas and water supply problems?

Guaranteed Service Levels (GSL) apply for gas and for most water companies. There are no GSLs for LPG.

If your damage is more than the GSL amount, you can lodge a compensation claim with your distributor. Your distributor will assess whether compensation is payable or not.

Visit the Outages and power surges page for more information.

How do I switch to solar?

Switching to solar can be a considerable investment, so it’s important to research the costs and benefits of going solar. Consumer Affairs Victoria and Solar Victoria have some useful information to help you make the best choice.

Once you have been through the approval process and have signed a contract for your solar system, you’re locked in. So it’s important to be informed and make the right choice for you. Make sure that you compare products and quotes offered by different solar companies and confirm that they are Clean Energy Council accredited.

Visit the Other issues page for more information and to access our fact sheets.


What do I do if I think my solar bill is wrong?

We can investigate the accuracy of your solar bill, check that solar credits are correctly applied to your account and confirm that you’re on the correct feed-in tariff rate. We’ll work out if your energy company has contributed to any billing issue. Our aim is to confirm you have been billed accurately with the meter correctly recording your electricity use and feed-in.

We usually can’t investigate complaints about solar installation companies. You should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 558 181 or the Clean Energy Council instead. However, if the solar installer is also your electricity retailer, then in some circumstances we may be able to investigate.

Visit the Other issues page for more information and to access our fact sheets.


What’s a feed-in tariff?

A solar feed-in tariff is the credit you receive per kWh your solar system feeds back into the electricity grid. Talk to your retailer about which feed-in tariff is available to you.

Feed-in tariffs are set by the Essential Services Commission and can vary each year. The most common feed-in tariff is the General Feed-in Tariff. The Standard Feed-in Tariff and Transitional Feed-in Tariff both ended on 31 December 2016 and these customers were moved onto the General Feed-in Tariff.

The Premium Feed-in Tariff closed to new applicants on 29 December 2011 and the scheme ends on 1 November 2024. You will lose the Premium Feed-in Tariff if you add new solar panels to your premises.

Visit the Other issues page for more information and to access our fact sheets.

What is bulk hot water?

‘Bulk hot water’ is water that is centrally heated (usually by gas) and piped to a number of customers in a multi-dwelling property, such as an apartment building or block of flats.

Visit the Other issues page for more information and to access our fact sheets.


Can I change hot water retailer?

If you live in a building with bulk hot water, you must stay with the retailer providing that bulk hot water. However, a collective choice about changing retailer could be made by the Body Corporate or building management.

Buildings using bulk hot water are billed on the gas meter used to heat the water. If you also use gas for cooking or heating, it could mean your gas bills come from two different retailers — one for your share of the bulk hot water and one for your cooking/heating.

Visit the Other issues page for more information and to access our fact sheets.

What is an embedded network?

Embedded networks are private electricity networks that supply electricity to homes or businesses within one area, such as an apartment building, shopping centre, caravan park or retirement village. Usually, the operator of the embedded network buys electricity in bulk and then sells it to customers inside the embedded network. Embedded network customers have most of the same rights and protections as other electricity customers.

Visit the About embedded networks page for more information.