CHOICE launches easy energy campaign to close price rise loophole

CHOICE is turning the heat up on energy retailers in a bid to close a loophole that allows them to increase energy prices without informing consumers before they’ve already taken effect.

The news comes a day after Energy Australia was named and shamed at the 8th annual CHOICE Shonky Awards for failing to disclose price rises to customers before slugging them with higher charges.

“How’s this for a business idea – you sell Australians an essential service, lock them into a long-term contract, but give yourself the right to increase the prices whenever you like. And when you do increase them, don’t tell your customers until after they’ve already racked up the bill and it’s too late to do anything about it,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

“This is exactly what we are seeing with electricity bills, which have been identified as the number one cost of living concern by Australian households. With prices increasing over 50 per cent in the past five years, the last thing we need is retailers exploiting the fine print to make this market even more confusing.

“That’s why today CHOICE is calling on all energy retailers, including Energy Australia, to lift their game and help Australians make informed choices.”

CHOICE thinks Australian energy users have the right to better information, helping them to:

  • Adjust their usage in response to price rises.
  • Budget for increased bills.
  • Shop around and see if they can get a better deal.

CHOICE is calling for:

  • Advance notice of price increases, including clear details of your new and old prices.
  • Clear personalised information about what price rises mean for your budget. For example, will the price increases mean an extra $5, $50 or $500 for your monthly or quarterly bills?
  • Clear information about your current energy plan so you can easily shop around.

“Energy Australia used to send customers a letter, explaining price rises in advance. Now they are exploiting a loophole in the new energy laws to delay information about price rises until the customer’s next bill, after the new prices have come into effect,” Mr Kirkland says.

“Energy Australia is one of the biggest energy retailers and we call on them to lift their game and put consumers first. If they don’t, then we call on governments to change the law and make it clear that consumers must be informed of price rises before they kick in.”

To join the campaign visit CHOICE.