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Overall cases by industry (Jan-Mar 2019)
Jan-Mar 2018 Apr-Jun 2018 Jul-Sep 2018 Oct-Dec 2018
453 508 495 412 419
2,592 3,508 2,987 2,135
5,755 5,530 5,727 5,012 4,413
8,873 8,690 9,789 8,503 7,031
Note: All quarterly totals include Dual Fuel and Other Industry cases. In the January to March 2018 quarter there were 11 Dual Fuel and 49 Other Industry cases.
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Top three issues by industry (Jan-Mar 2018)
- Billing 41%
- Credit 19%
- Provision 13%
- Other 27%
- Billing 46%
- Credit 23%
- Provision 13%
- Other 18%
- Billing 51%
- Credit 13%
- Land 14%
- Other 22%
Payment Difficulty Framework update
From 1 January to 31 March 2019, EWOV closed 1,226 electricity, gas and dual fuel credit cases.
This included 233 Investigations, 875 Assisted Referrals (where the retailer must follow up with the customer to resolve the complaint) and 115 Unassisted Referrals (where the customer had not yet contacted their retailer).
Through conciliated outcomes from EWOV Investigations, 116 customers received entitlements under the Payment Difficulty Framework (PDF). Of these customers, 20 received Standard Assistance and were assisted through payment plans; and 26 were provided Tailored Assistance, available to customers with a debt of $55 or more.
Significantly, we identified that a further 27% of customers (31) should have been offered Tailored Assistance. However, in these cases, the energy retailer wrote the debt down rather than provide the customer with appropriate help under the PDF. These cases spanned 11 retailers. While this is a short-term solution for retailers and their financially vulnerable customers, it doesn’t address the long-term issue of customers who can't afford to pay for their ongoing energy use.
For customers experiencing the greatest level of payment difficulty, access to their PDF entitlements through EWOV led to 16% (19) of them being offered a payment plan with their arrears on hold and paying below consumption for a minimum of six months. Another 6% (7) were placed on payment plans enabling them to pay off their arrears over two years.
An important feature of the PDF is that energy retailers provide practical assistance to customers receiving tailored assistance — as a means of supporting them to meet payment obligations and remain on supply. Most of the customers who received tailored assistance as a result of EWOV's Investigation were given information about the Utility Relief Grant Scheme (URGS) or concessions.
Or, as part of practical assistance, they received a tariff review or advice to lower their energy use and reduce energy costs. Under the new guidelines, these customers — and those we assisted through Unassisted and Assisted Referrals — should have been offered the appropriate level of assistance (standard or tailored) without lodging a complaint with EWOV.
We'll continue to highlight PDF issues and trends in future editions of ResOnline.
Embedded Network Cases
On 1 July 2018, EWOV's jurisdiction was extended to include embedded networks, an arrangement commonly found in apartment buildings, caravan parks, retirement villages and shopping centres.
To 31 March 2019, 168 entities had joined EWOV. These entities cover 629 sites and 78,404 customer connections. There's a list of EWOV's embedded network scheme participants on our website. A further 86 entities (covering 123 sites) have lodged applications which are currently under assessment.
In the nine months to 31 March 2019, EWOV has received 315 embedded network cases. Unfortunately, more than half of these were out of EWOV'S jurisdiction, because the entity complained about wasn't an EWOV scheme participant at the time the customer contacted us. This has started to be remedied, with contact being made with those customers once the entity has joined EWOV, to progress their complaint if it remains relevant.
Trends in embedded network cases and issues
From January to March 2019, EWOV received 85 embedded network cases
Billing, credit and transfer were the most common issues:
- 44 embedded network cases were about billing — down 28% against the previous quarter and most commonly about high bills, tariffs and concessions
- 12 embedded network cases were about credit — up 33% against the previous quarter and most commonly about disconnection (imminent and actual)
- 11 embedded network cases were about transfer — down 35% against the previous quarter and most commonly about objection and delay