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Overall cases by industry (Jan-Mar 2018)
Jul-Sep 2017 Oct-Dec 2017 Jan-Mar 2018
486 529 463 453
2,189 3,033 3,068
4,289 5,031 4,924 5,755
7,036 8,653 8,523 8,873
Note: All quarterly totals include Dual Fuel and Other Industry cases. In the January to March 2018 quarter there were 3 Dual Fuel and 52 Other Industry cases.
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Top three issues by industry (Jan-March 2018)
- Billing 34%
- Credit 22%
- Provision 16%
- Other 28%
- Billing 35%
- Credit 28%
- Provision 18%
- Other 19%
- Billing 53%
- Credit 14%
- Land 14%
- Other 18%
Regulatory changes around embedded networks will improve protections for customers.
An 'embedded network' is a private electricity network that supplies homes or businesses within a specific area. Common examples include apartment buildings, caravan parks, retirement villages and shopping centres. The embedded network is connected to the wider electricity network. Usually, the embedded network operator buys electricity in bulk from this connection, and sells it on to customers inside the embedded network. As an 'exempt seller' or 'on-seller', it doesn't need to hold an electricity licence. Until now, customers in these situations haven't had the same protections or switching opportunities as customers who buy from licensed electricity providers, and EWOV couldn't deal with their complaints. When they contacted us, the most we could do was help with some general advice and refer them to another body (usually to Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).
Exemptions for embedded network operators are now subject to new conditions.
In 2015, the Victorian Government announced a review of the regulatory framework governing electricity licence exemptions. In August 2017, the government announced a new regulatory framework for exempt electricity providers. The General Exemption Order 2017, published in November 2017, outlines the type of persons and activities that may be exempt from the requirement to obtain a licence. It also sets out conditions that must continue to be met for the benefit of exemption to apply. One of these conditions is that providers with a retail or distribution exemption must now become a member of a customer dispute resolution scheme approved by the ESC.
The ESC has approved EWOV as a customer dispute resolution scheme for the purposes of the General Exemption Order.
In its approval, the ESC confirmed its satisfaction ''that EWOV has the capacity for its scheme to:
- be accessible to the customers of exempt persons and have no cost barrier for customers to use the scheme
- be independent of the members of the scheme
- be fair and seen to be fair
- publish decisions and information about complaints received, so as to be accountable to the members of the scheme and their customers
- undertake regular reviews of the performance to ensure it is efficient and effective''.
From 1 July 2018, we will be able to accept complaints from embedded network customers.
Following consideration by the Board and approval at a General Meeting of EWOV Limited members, the necessary changes to EWOV's Constitution and Charter were approved in mid-March 2018.
To help us prepare, we've been tracking the issues raised with EWOV by embedded network customers.
Customers in embedded networks commonly contact us because they know we deal with electricity complaints generally. From six months of data (October 2017 to March 2018), some issues trends are evident. Billing was the main issue for 70 of the 121 embedded network customers who contacted us in this period — commonly about unexpectedly high bills and/or very large price increases without warning and being unable to get the provider to respond to their concerns. 20 customers had credit complaints — mostly about disconnection, including rejected requests for payment plans, refusal of extended time to pay, disconnection for low arrears, customers claiming they didn't ever receive the bill, and high reconnection fees. The third highest category of complaint was transfer, mostly about being unable to switch to another provider.
Access to meter data
The customer complained that the exempt seller wouldn't provide him with his electricity meter’s interval data. (2017/7273)
High billing – caravan park
The customer lived in a permanent cabin at a caravan park, without choice of electricity retailer. He was dissatisfied about high bills from his exempt seller, including the daily supply charge and the high price per kWh. (2017/6732)
Disconnection – hardship
A customer with a dependent child was in financial hardship. Her supply was disconnected. She said she couldn't afford the $250 the exempt seller required to reconnect the supply. (2017/3300)
Disconnection – site ownership issue
A residential customer’s electricity supply was disconnected after confusion and errors about whether the exempt seller or a licensed retailer held the billing rights to the customer’s meter. There was also confusion about which company billed the network and usage charges. (2017/3833)
EWOV's communications strategies aim to inform both embedded network providers and customers.
- Priorities in our current communications to embedded network providers are to:
- Inform them that the recent changes to Victorian exemption conditions mean that they must join EWOV as a scheme participant from 1 July 2018 — and that this process requires an application and EWOV Limited Board approval.
- Introduce them to EWOV, how the scheme operates and how (as an EWOV scheme participant) they will be required to work with us to resolve customer complaints and participate in our dispute resolution processes.
- Inform them that EWOV is an industry-funded scheme — and that all scheme participants contribute to the running of the scheme through a proportionate joining and annual fee and a fee for service for each complaint received about them.
- Priorities in our planned communications to customers, customer representatives and the community are to build awareness that:
- From 1 July 2018, embedded network customers in apartment blocks, retirement villages, caravan parks and shopping centres have access to EWOV.
- EWOV is a free and independent customer dispute resolution scheme.
- The customer's embedded network provider will have to be an EWOV scheme participant before we can fully assist with a complaint.
We've also appointed a liaison officer for new scheme participants.
John Graham is EWOV's embedded network Member Liaison Officer. He looks forward to speaking and meeting with embedded network providers as they join EWOV.
Contact details: (03) 8672 4269 | firstname.lastname@example.org