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Catherine Wolthuizen

"Case numbers rose across both gas and electricity, with water cases remaining relatively steady. This coincides with the winter billing period, at a time when energy price tariff increases are being experienced by consumers who are facing broader cost-of-living pressures."

EWOV is already assisting many consumers who have raised concerns with us about high energy bills. At a time of increased cost of living pressures, we are likely to continue to hear these types of concerns, and will be working with businesses, regulators and government to improve outcomes so that consumers can have trust and confidence in the market.

Cases (both enquiries and complaints) increased significantly in the July to September 2022 quarter, rising 41% when compared to the previous quarter. This was largely due to a spike in high billing cases in July and August. This levelled out slightly in September, with the end of winter and a decline in seasonal Billing complaints.

Transfer and Customer service cases also increased sharply in the quarter, particularly for gas and electricity. This suggests that the increased movement of consumers and contact with energy and water businesses brought on by price increases has led to a spike in cases. Transfer cases rose 37% when compared to the previous quarter and customer service cases increased by 80%. We explore these developments in the Issues Watch section of this report.

Read on for more detail in the latest edition of Reflect. As always, you can find more data relating to our casework in the Data Hub.

Issues watch

Winter is typically a busy period for EWOV complaints, as usage of electricity and gas increases results in consumers contacting us more frequently with complaints about higher-than-expected bills. The Victorian winter was particularly challenging, with low temperatures, increases in cost of living and wholesale energy prices starting to filter down to consumers.

High bill cases peaked at 268 cases in August, after rising from a low of 78 cases in April 2022. This is a significant jump and signals a number of issues to watch, including the ongoing impact of energy prices and the types of assistance needs consumers are likely to have over the coming year at least. Cases remained high in the first month of spring, with 258 high bill cases coming in during September. We may see a gradual tapering of these cases, as some consumers on longer billing periods receive their winter bills later in the year, however we are monitoring these issues closely in the context of cost-of-living pressures and price sensitivity.

Transfer cases increased by 37% in the July to September 2022 quarter, after increasing by 42% in the previous quarter. Cases have noticeably risen from a low of 210 in the January to March 2022 quarter to 392 in the July to September quarter. Transfer cases are generally enquiries or complaints about issues related to moving energy providers, such as delays and errors.

Transfer delay cases rose significantly in the quarter, increasing from 71 cases in April-June 2022 to 105 in July-September. In the context of energy price rises, consumers are likely to more actively seek to switch energy providers, leading to more delays. This is more of an issue with gas, as meters must be read manually. In one case received in the quarter, a consumer complained that estimates of when the gas meter would be read were not met and the consumer was left waiting for a number of weeks for the meter read and transfer to take place.

Customer service cases rose sharply from 153 in April-June 2022 to 275 in July-September, a significant increase of 80%. Electricity was the biggest mover in cases, with consumers lodging 106 complaints and enquiries about customer service issues in April-June to 191 in July-September. All sub issue case types were up, with poor service increasing from 69 cases in the previous quarter to 121 cases this quarter.

When the level of service does not meet consumer expectations, we tend to see high numbers of consumer complaints. The nature of the issues consumers are experiencing vary, from dissatisfaction with being placed on hold for over an hour to one case where a consumer was asked by their retailer to submit a spouse’s death certificate multiple times in order to change the account holder name at a time when they were already experiencing vulnerability.

Our insights tell us that consumers are closely watching their bills and seeking to understand how they can save on essentials, get best value for money and manage extra stress caused by cost-of-living pressures. During this time, it will be more important than ever that energy and water business practices positively and proactively contribute to fair and reasonable outcomes for consumers, and that businesses actively monitor trends and changes in consumer expectations about service, supports and information.

The big picture

  • From July to September 2022, we received 4,692 cases, up 41% from the previous quarter but down 3% compared to the same quarter in 2021.
  • Billing cases rose 72% compared to the previous quarter and were up 6% compared to the July to September 2021 quarter.
  • We received 721 high billing cases from July to September 2022, up from 659 high bill cases from the same time last year.
  • Credit cases increased 3% in the quarter, compared to the previous quarter. Credit cases were down 30% when compared to the same quarter last year.
  • Disconnection cases increased by 6% compared to the previous quarter.
  • Payment difficulties cases also increased (up 32%) when compared to the previous quarter.


  • Reflect and Data Hub data is a ‘live’ view of case data up to the end of the previous period.
  • Cases can sometimes be amended, reopened and reallocated — adjustments made to cases in previous quarters will be shown in the previous quarter's figures within the visualisations.
  • For these reasons, there may be discrepancies between previous quarter data presented in the visualisations and the information presented in past editions of Reflect.


We focus on community outreach and engagement to increase the accessibility and awareness of EWOV. This helps to build relationships with organisations that work with Victorian energy and water consumers who may be at the greatest risk of experiencing financial and other vulnerabilities.

In the July to September quarter, we attended several in-person outreach events in the community. We joined panels for two Carer Gateway webinars with a combined audience of more than 160 carers and support workers, sharing practical information about entitlements energy and water consumers have in Victoria and the assistance we can provide when people have trouble accessing them. We also participated in a Bring Your Bills day with Mooney Valley Legal Service, assisting community members with issues they are experiencing with their providers. At another event – a Vulnerable Customer Interest Group meeting presented by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman – we shared insights about how EWOV helps people experiencing vulnerability, resources we’ve relied on to support us in supporting our teams and learned more about how to enhance our outreach to meet consumer needs.

We continued to strengthen relationships with community organisations in the recent quarter. We travelled to Oakleigh to speak with volunteers at Monash-Oakleigh Community Support and Information Service, who assist the local community by providing information and material aid. We held a meeting of our EWOV Community Consultation Group where the focus was discussion about affordability and rising cost of living concerns. We also spoke with Consumer Action Law Centre about engagement opportunities for newly arrived migrants and First Nations peoples in Shepparton, and strengthened our relationship with Djirra through cultural and wellbeing workshops and providing support to Aboriginal women about energy-related concerns.

Scheme participants

In our Data Hub, you'll find the latest quarterly case data for all of EWOV's scheme participants.

Public submissions

Protecting consumers of distributed energy resources (DER) - Consultation Paper

Ensuring that consumers have free access to an experienced, independent complaints and dispute resolution body like EWOV is increasingly important in the transitioning energy market, with more people than ever taking up consumer energy resources like solar panels and batteries. EWOV can play an important role in ensuring consumers have trust and confidence in the evolving market, and that fair and reasonable outcomes are reached when problems arise. With this in mind, in November we made a submission to the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s consultation on Protecting consumers of distributed energy resources.

Read the submission

Energy Security Board (ESB) Data Strategy - Initial Reforms Consultation Paper

We provided a submission in response to the ESB’s Data Strategy – Initial Reforms Consultation Paper. We formed the view that ensuring that ombudsman schemes have access to consumer data to assist in providing clarity and transparency in dispute resolution will mean we are able to fulfil our role more effectively as an impartial dispute resolution body.

Read the submission


Visit the Data Hub for a full glossary of terms.