"The issues consumers and businesses are navigating remain dynamic and complex."
Like many organisations, EWOV is looking ahead to 2023 with a close eye on current and emerging issues for energy and water consumers and markets. While the decline in our overall case numbers was slightly sharper in the final quarter last year, our data insights shine a light on several issues that are of increasing concern to consumers including high bills, debt collection and billing errors. The issues consumers and businesses are navigating remain dynamic and complex. In a context of cost-of-living pressures, during the quarter we were able to provide free, independent dispute resolution to 3,514 complaints from consumers while focusing on the challenges ahead.
Our key data insights for the quarter show that credit collection and payment difficulties cases remain an area to watch. Credit collection cases rose 15% and payment difficulties cases increased by 9% in October to December 2022 when compared to the July to September 2022 quarter. This may indicate a greater degree of hardship in the Victorian community and a willingness on the part of providers to try to recover debts.
Billing issues remain the primary driver for consumers to come to EWOV. Billing cases make up 51% of all EWOV cases so far this financial year, an increase from 46% in the previous year. This is not surprising, given the price increases that started to filter through to consumer bills in the middle of 2022.
We saw the usual seasonal decline in cases in the final quarter of 2022, down 19% when compared to the previous quarter. The final quarter is usually the quietest quarter for EWOV, and our cases were down 6% when compared with the same period in 2021.
In the Issues Watch section of this report, we explore trends we’re seeing in billing and credit issues, EWOV’s role in supporting trust and confidence in new energy markets and the renewable energy transition, and our actions in response to the recent flooding emergencies in several areas of the state.
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.