But Australians think a contract actually stands for something – that the price you sign up for is the price you should pay. It’s why we’re calling for energy prices to be fixed for the length of a contract.
Let’s fix the system which takes us for granted. Visit www.fixit.org.au and add your voice to the call.
What we’re after
If a customer is signed up to a fixed term contract, the price should remain the same for the full contract term.
For this to happen we need the Australian Energy Market Commission to change the National Energy Retail Law to prevent retailers varying prices whenever they like. So Consumer Action Law Centre and Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) have formally requested that the Australian Energy Market Commission change the rules to make the energy market fairer for Australian households.
Why it’s needed
To make shopping around worthwhile
Politicians tell us the best way to combat price rises is to shop around for the cheapest deal. But you can spend hours finding the best deal only to have the price increase before you get your first bill. So what’s the point of shopping around? And what’s the point of governments spending millions on websites to help us find the best deal when the price may only last a few weeks? Prices need to be fixed for the term of a contract to make shopping around worthwhile.
To end unfair sales tactics
Some retailers offer energy at a very low rate to lure in customers, then increase the price once they’ve got your business. After all, the exit fees customers face for leaving mean we’re unlikely to take our business elsewhere. Prices need to be fixed for the term of a contract to stop ‘bait and switch’ tactics.
To keep energy affordable
For many households power is becoming unaffordable. Electricity prices have jumped by an average of 45% in the last three years and 82% in just seven years. Even in Melbourne, which boasts Australia’s most competitive energy market, prices have increased by 84% in seven years. We can’t rely on the current system to right the ship, we need change – prices need to be fixed for the term of a contract.
To stop retailers playing by their own rules
What other business is allowed to increase prices during a contract? Your phone company can’t increase your mobile cap mid contract. Your insurer can’t increase premiums mid contract. And a petrol station can’t advertise one price but charge you more when you go to the counter to pay. It’s time energy retailers played by the same rules as everyone else – prices need to be fixed for the term of a contract.
To give Australian households certainty
Budgeting is essential for many Australian households – it ensures bills get paid, the fridge is stocked and the lights stay on. But how can you budget when the cost of power can increase from one bill to the next? Prices should be fixed for the term of a contract to make budgeting manageable and stop households from worrying what their next bill will bring.