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Common complaints

If you’re having trouble paying a bill or you’re experiencing ongoing financial difficulty, there’s help available.

If you can’t pay a bill, call your electricity, gas or water company. Explain the situation and ask how it can help.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a one-off or an ongoing issue for you. Your company must help you. Your company should begin by giving you an extension or a payment plan to pay in instalment amounts you can afford.

You must pay the instalments when due. Some companies offer incentives if you stick to the plan, such as payment matching.

All electricity, gas and water companies have a special financial hardship team that can work with you to help manage your ongoing bills and usage.

The help your company must offer you is different for water companies, and electricity and gas companies.

By law, electricity and gas companies have to offer you help. The level of help they offer you is based on the amount that you owe.

If you have less than $55 owing and you want help to manage the money you owe, your company must offer you three of the following payment options:

  • give you more time to pay the bill
  • work out a plan to pay over time in instalments you can afford (with regular instalments)
  • work out a plan to pay over time in instalments you can afford (with irregular instalments)
  • allow you to pay in advance.

If you have more than $55 owing, the company must offer:

  • a payment plan for you to pay for usage and repay the amount you owe within two years
  • a payment plan where the amount you owe is on hold for a minimum of six months, while you make reduced payments (less than what you use at the property) and try to reduce your energy use.

Your electricity or gas company must also:

  • check that you’re receiving government concessions and grants you’re entitled to
  • provide you with practical information about how to reduce the energy you use
  • talk to you about options to help you repay the amount you owe
  • review your account and tariff.

If you’re an embedded network customer, some of these entitlements may not be available to you. Embedded network companies are required to provide certain assistance but are only encouraged to provide others. Contact your embedded network company and ask them what assistance they can provide.

By law, water companies have to offer you help. The options they will offer include:

  • give you more time to pay your bill
  • work out a plan to pay over time in instalments you can afford
  • check that you’re receiving government concessions and grants you’re entitled to
  • refer you to a free, independent financial counsellor for advice
  • give you water efficiency advice to help reduce your bills
  • let you pay bills through Centrepay (smaller fortnightly payments taken directly from Centrelink payments) if applicable to you.

If you’re on a low income, you may be entitled to concessions. Concessions are government discounts that make your electricity, gas and water bills a bit cheaper. Read our fact sheet [anchor link down the page] for more information.

If you’re not sure if you’re receiving your concessions, call your company to check. If you’re entitled to concessions and you haven’t been getting them, they can be back paid for up to a year and sometimes longer.

If you’re having trouble paying your bill, you may be able to access a Utility Relief Grant (URG) from the Victorian Government. The URG is a one-off payment of up to $650 for electricity, gas or water bills to help reduce the amount you owe. If you only have electricity and no gas, you can get $1300 for electricity alone. You can apply through your electricity, gas or water company. You can get only one grant for each fuel, every two years.

Sometimes things can go wrong when you’re having trouble paying a bill. Common problems include:

  • not getting the help you’re entitled to by law, including setting up a payment plan and getting help reducing your usage
  • problems with payment methods, such as direct debit
  • payment plan instalments not being deducted correctly
  • disputes about the details of payment plans.

We can help with most complaints about energy or water issues in Victoria, big or small. Our service is free to Victorian customers.

"Clearly understood the facts and showed honest compassion for my position"

Saul* Victorian customer * Name has been changed

Need general information?

If you don’t have a complaint but just want some general information, we call this an enquiry. We may even be able to refer you to another agency.

You can make an enquiry at any time. Call us on 1800 500 509, send us an email or start a live chat.

I couldn’t work from home after my power was cut off

Kim’s* power was cut off before the due date on her bill. She found it stressful not having power and wanted some compensation.

*names have been changed

Read Kim's story

My meter was underground. How could I check my usage?

Tony’s* water bill was more than $3,000. The problem was he didn’t know there was a leak or where his meter was.

*names have been changed

Read Tony's story

Being contacted by two different debt collectors was stressful

Joanne* moved house, kept the same energy company and made payments, but got a $1,600 bill.

*names have been changed

Read Joanne's story