From CFA member Queensland Consumers Association:

The Queensland Consumers Association has welcomed the decision by south east Queensland (SEQ) electricity retailers to let many of their customers know that they might be able to get a better deal.

Association spokesperson Ian Jarratt says this is a long overdue move that will be of particular help to the many consumers who are on expensive standing offer contracts, or on market contracts but paying prices that are the same as, or similar to, standing offer prices.

The Association estimates that nearly a quarter (340,000) of households in SEQ are on standing offer contracts.

The number of customers on market contracts who pay prices similar to standing offer prices is known only by retailers, however the Association thinks it is likely to be substantial.

Consumers on standing offers are most likely to have been with the same retailer and have not changed contract type since the SEQ power market was opened up to competition in 2007.

Consumers may be on market contracts but paying prices similar to standing offer prices because:

  • The original discount off the bases price has expired and they have not signed up for a new discount, or
  • They have been unable to fully comply with the terms and conditions for a discount (for example been unable to pay the bill on time), or
  • The contract never provided a discount off the base price.

Potentially, many of both types of consumers can reduce their power bills significantly by either changing their contract or benefit arrangements with the current retailer, or by changing retailer.

However, before deciding to make any of these changes the Association recommends that consumers always check that they will end up better off, especially that costs will be lower and the quality of customer service will be satisfactory.

“It is particularly important to make sure that you can comply with any contract terms and conditions, such on-time payment of bills, payment by direct debit, e-billing, etc. that are likely to have a big effect the actual cost of a market contract”, says Ian Jarratt.

Further, consumers who have unpaid bills with their current retailer need to be aware that changing retailer may have significant effects on when the debt has to be paid.

A good place to compare present costs with other options, from your current retailer or other retailers, is the free and independent comparison website EnergyMadeEasy provided by the Federal government at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au

Consumers also need to know that there is a 10 business day cooling off period within which a new contract can be cancelled without penalty

The Association also says that retailers should implement other consumer focused changes including:

  • Competing on, and advertising, actual costs to consumers not discounts off inflated base prices
  • Changing late payment of bill penalties by charging these more fairly and only to recover extra costs and doing so with an interest charge related to time the bill is unpaid NOT though the punitive and unfair loss of large pay on time percentage discounts.

Media contact:

For further information contact Ian Jarratt at ijarratt@australiamail.com or phone 07 37195475 mob 0448012482

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