2016 Annual Report

October 2016

Download the full report and explore and interact with the data below. Simply select one of the topics from the navigation menu.

Video summary

Read text description

For 20 years, Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria), known as EWOV, has provided free and independent dispute resolution services to Victoria's energy and water customers and companies. Since opening to full operation in May 1996, EWOV has handled just under 600,000 cases. In carrying out its role, EWOV balances case handling processes that are accessible, efficient, fair and impartial, with an operating model that is flexible and responsive.

In 2015-16, EWOV received 36,152 cases, down 28% from 2014-15. Case numbers were the lowest since 2007-08. This is a welcome development that reflects company improvements in internal dispute resolution and customer focus, and fewer problems around billing systems. With more of the straight-forward complaints resolved between the companies and their customers directly, EWOV has shifted back to its intended role as an 'office of last resort'.

63% of the 36,152 cases were about electricity. 87% of electricity cases were retail and 8% were distribution. 30% of cases were about gas — 93% retail, 5% distribution and 1% LPG. 7% of cases were about water.

The most common issues continued to be billing and credit.

In 2015-16, billing cases fell 36% to an eight-year low of 14,643. The fall reflects the end of major billing system implementations by some companies, and overall improvements in internal dispute resolution. High bill was the top sub-issue, followed by error, backbill, tariff and estimation. Billing has always been the biggest source of complaints overall. Over the 20 years, some of the major drivers for billing complaints have included: several instances of major billing systems problems experienced by energy companies, greater billing complexity around the introduction of Full Retail Competition, energy and water price increases, the Smart Meter roll out, solar feed-in tariffs.

In 2015-16, credit cases fell 19% to a four year low of 10,995. The fall reflects a better approach by energy retailers to complaint prevention and to minimising the escalation of less complex hardship complaints through more customer-focused solutions. Energy disconnection/water restriction was the top sub-issue. Over 20 years, EWOV has made a significant contribution to building awareness of affordability issues. Our first conference on financial hardship issues in December 2001 prompted more companies to introduce a customer hardship program. Our introduction of a separate credit issues category from July 2005 focused greater attention on the capacity of customers to pay their bills and stay on supply. Since the beginning, we've drawn on our cases to provide timely, independent and reliable information about financial hardship issues to companies, regulators, government and community representatives.

Overall the top 5 sub-issues were energy disconnection/water restriction, debt collection/credit default listing, high bill, billing error and backbill.

91% of cases were residential and 9% were business/not-for-profit. 71% were from metropolitan Melbourne. 29% were from regional and rural Victoria. Some areas of Victoria stood out. Loddon Shire, Central Goldfield Shire and Murrindindi Shire had the highest rates of residential cases overall. The colder regions of Towong Shire and Alpine Shire had the highest rates of high bill cases. Baw Baw Shire, South Gippsland Shire and Hepburn Shire had the highest rates of energy disconnection cases. Melton Shire, Pyrenees Shire, Wyndham Council and Central Goldfields Shire had the highest rate of debt collection/credit default listing cases.

Visit ewov.com.au/2016 to download the full report, and explore and interact with more in-depth data. To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and connect with us on LinkedIn. EWOV – free and independent for 20 years.

2015-16 snapshot

Read text description

2015-16 snapshot

In 2015-16, EWOV received:

  • 36152 cases, down 28% from 2014-15
  • 34486 complaints, down 29% from 2014-15
  • 1666 enquiries, down 19% from 2014-15

Case trends from 2011-12 to 2015-16

Read text description

Overview of cases EWOV received between 2011-12 and 2015-16


Year Total cases received
2011-12 63998
2012-13 77149
2013-14 84758
2014-15 50437
2015-16 36152

In 2015-16, EWOV received:

  • 22629 electricity cases, down 34% from 2014-15
  • 10715 gas cases, down 18% from 2014-15
  • 2398 water cases, up 1% from 2014-15

The main issues

The map below provides an overview of issues raised by customers in 2015-16. Click on the different blocks to show more detailed information about the sub-issues. To return to the main overview, click the button at the top of the map that reads 'return to cases overview'.

Read text description

Main issues

The main issues raised by customers in 2015-16 were:

Issue Number of cases
Billing 14643
Credit 10995
Transfer 3883
Provision 3009
General Enquiry 1191
Supply 1023
Land 518
Marketing 484
Customer Service 406
All issues total 36152

 

Issue Percentage of total cases received
Billing 41%
Credit 30%
Transfer 11%
Provision 8%
General Enquiry 3%
Supply 3%
Land 1%
Marketing 1%
Customer Service 1%

 

Issue Compared to 2014-15
Billing -36%
Credit -19%
Transfer -31%
Provision -18%
General Enquiry -31%
Supply -14%
Land -3%
Marketing -18%
Customer Service -43%
All issues total -28%

 

Sub-issues

The main issues raised by customers in 2015-16 were:

Billing sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
High 3663
Error 2326
Backbill 2144
Tariff 1593
Estimation 1106
Fees and Charges 885
Concession/Rebate 614
Refund 560
Delay 548
Meter 495
Other 458
Format 246
Price of LPG 5
Billing issues total 14643

 

Credit sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Disconnection/Restriction 4538
Collection 4319
Payment Difficulties 2114
Deliveries Stopped (LPG) 24
Credit issues total 10995

 

Transfer sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Site Ownership 924
Contract Terms 851
Delay 691
In Error 487
Without Consent 335
Billing 290
Cooling Off Rights 166
Objection 139
Transfer issues total 3883

 

Provision sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Existing Connection 1888
New Connection 870
Restriction 245
Deliveries Stopped 6
Provision issues total 3009

 

General sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Energy/Water 905
Non Energy/Water 286
General Enquiry total 1191

 

Supply sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Off Supply - Unplanned 373
Off Supply - Planned 331
Variation 141
Quality 119
Sewer/Stormwater Overflow  39
Water Licensing 16
Sustainability Initiatives 2
Water Restrictions 2
Supply issues total 1023

 

Land-sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Network Assets 230
Other  203
Vegetation Management 49
Easement 21
Street Lighting 14
Cylinder (LPG) 1
Land issues total 518

 

Marketing sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Misleading 181
Pressure Sales 106
Other  101
Information 84
Non Account Holder 12
Marketing issues total 484

 

Customer sub-issues

Sub-issue Number of cases
Poor Service 107
Privacy 99
Failure to Consult/Inform 65
Incorrect Advice/Information 58
Failure to Respond 52
Poor/Unprofessional Attitude 25
Customer Service issues total 406

20 years in review

Read text description

20 years in review

  • EWOV has received 588222 cases over 20 years
  • Since 2005-06, EWOV has tracked financial almost $39 million in redress
  • EWOV has made over 250 public policy submissions to state and national regulatory, government and industry policy consultations
Year Event
1996 May - Electricity Industry Ombudsman (Victoria) (EIOV) opens to full operation, with 6 scheme participants
1996 December - the first four Ombudsman Binding Decisions are made
1999 March - EIOV expands to handle gas retail cases and becomes Energy Industry Ombudsman (Victoria)
1999 July - EIOV begins naming companies in its public reports
2001 April - EIOV expands to handle water cases and becomes Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria) (EWOV)
2001 November - EWOV runs its first customer hardship conference
2001 December - EWOV expands to handle gas distribution cases
2002 January - Full retail competition in electricity
2002

June - EWOV has 45 scheme participants

2002

October - Full retail competition in gas

2003 January - EWOV introduces a dual fuel case type covering joint electricity/gas product offerings
2004 December - The Victorian Government introduced the Wrongful Disconnection Payment, with immediate and significant falls in energy disconnections
2005 July - EWOV expands to handle Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cases
2005 November - EWOV runs its first internal dispute resolution (IDR) workshop
2008 June - In 2007-08, energy cases surged, driven by the billing systems problems experienced towards the end of 2007 and into 2008 by two large energy retailers
2009 September - Victorian Government commences the roll-out of Smart Meters
2010 June - In 2009-10, many cases pointed to increasing customer financial hardship. Credit became EWOV's second most common issues category
2011 March - National Retail Energy Law comes in
2012 January - Ombudsman Fiona McLeod departs
2012 February - Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert commences
2012 June - EWOV has 69 scheme participants
2013 June - Contributing significantly to EWOV’s case increase in 2013-14 were the billing system implementation problems encountered by one large energy retailer
2014 May - EWOV passes the milestone of 500,000 cases
2014 June - EWOV's annual caseload peaks at 84,758 cases
2015 June - 2014-15 cases are down 40%
2016 June - EWOV has 83 scheme participants
2016 June - 2015-16 cases are down 28%