CONSUMERS NEED TO TAKE BACK THE POWER ON ENERGY BILLS

State Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle has encouraged residents to be careful when looking at discount deals on their power bills, saying that we need to be certain that the deal that looks good suits us best.

  Image source: Getty Images

Image source: Getty Images

It comes as a number of recently published reports have pointed the finger at retailers as being the main culprit behind electricity bill price shock. 

“While the reports look at offers by retailers, it is a very complicated industry and we need to be careful to what we sign up for. In fact, the Federal Government recently announced an investigation into retail electricity prices.” Mr McArdle said. 

“It’s no wonder people are throwing up their hands without getting the best deal. There are so many retailers providing plans but not enough transparency about the terms.” Mr McArdle said.  

“A report by the Grattan Institute of 13 March highlights many of the problems consumers are facing. One is that people are simply not aware that they have the right to choose who they buy their power from.” Mr McArdle said. 

But the confusion runs deeper than just selecting a retailer, as electricity prices are often far more complex than the pricing structure in most other industries.

“Let’s look at some of the issues we should be considering about discount offers* : 

  1. Retailers may offer a percentage discount, not a dollar amount. The question is, a discount from what?
  2. Retailers who offer big discounts may set high electricity rates from which the discount is taken.
  3. The discount may not be off the whole bill but only off a part of the bill.
  4. Discounts may be for a limited time only and tend to be conditional on paying on time with penalties applying for not meeting the deadline.
  5. At the end of the discount period you could be put onto a new tariff as selected by the retailer and this could be similar to the highest standing offer.”

“Though energy companies are running a business, it is completely within your right to ask them ‘what is the best possible deal you can offer?’”

“It is a case that retailers should be beaten down on deals by threatening that you will walk away from them.” Mr McArdle said.  

“It is important to remember that as the consumer you hold the “power” here but it is vital that we better arm ourselves with the knowledge of the fine print and limitation of discounts.” Mr McArdle concluded. 
 

There are a number of useful articles available online to help assist in understanding your options: 

Grattan Institute - Price Shock. Is the retail market failing consumers? 

Seniors News - How to cut your power bill right now by at least 20%

*Wood, T. & Blowers, D. (2017, March 13) Price shock: Is the retail electricity market failing consumers? Grattan Institute. Retrieved from https://grattan.edu.au/report/price-shock/