"COVID-19 continues to play havoc with the lives of many Victorians, many Australians, and many people worldwide. And the work of EWOV is as important as ever."
2019-20 was an extraordinary year. As we prepared our 2019-20 Annual Report, COVID-19 continued to play havoc with the lives of many Victorians, many Australians, and many people worldwide. The EWOV team successfully transitioned to working from home. Adapting our thinking about what our different EWOV roles do, and what that means in a remote environment, we've been able to deliver on our internal and external responsibilities as we would have done from the office environment.
In the full Annual Report, we report our performance against seven strategic objectives agreed with the EWOV Limited Board — Operating model, Industry relationships, Customer and community engagement, Policy and influence, Human capability, Systems and data analysis, and Future scope and capability. The last of these strategic objectives is about ensuring EWOV remains relevant and effective in a changing environment.
To this end, we're building our understanding of the customer experience outside traditional energy systems — and the extent to which complaints about different emerging technologies may, or may not, fall within EWOV's current jurisdiction. Recent research undertaken by the EWOV team concluded that — without targeted reform — an increasing number of energy customers may not have access to EWOV in the decades ahead. Our research has given us an early roadmap of what to expect from the future energy system. We're sharing this with policymakers to help get the settings right for a robust and capable consumer protection framework.
EWOV's 2019-20 cases were down 24% from 2018-19, and down 34% from four years ago. This is unusual and surprising, especially when — over the same period, with the addition of more embedded networks — EWOV's scheme participants grew from 325 to 516. We believe it's a question of when cases will increase again, not if. As the extensive financial support provided to people by governments, industry and community organisations is wound back, we expect customers will find it hard to meet their energy and water costs — and they will look to EWOV for help when they can't reach an agreement with the company or entity directly.
Cases, customers, contacts
EWOV received 23,786 cases, which we registered as Enquiries (1,070), Unassisted Referrals (3,074), Assisted Referrals (15,770) and Investigations (3,872). Overall, the top 5 issues were High bill; Billing error; Credit – debt collection/credit default listing; Provision – existing connection; and Billing tariff.
EWOV finalised 21,036 cases -- 1,064 as Enquiries, 3,044 as Unassisted Referrals, 12,902 as Assisted Referrals, 1,523 as Stage 1 Investigations, 1,949 as Stage 2 Investigations, 407 as Stage 3 Investigations and 147 as Final Stage Investigations.