Choosing a contract
How does the tariff compare with what you are currently paying? To do this consider:
|Future tariff increases||Check which part of the rate is fixed and which is subject to change. While the retail tariff component that relates to your usage may be fixed, you will be liable to pay for any increases to the network component of your tariff (eg. the retailer is obliged to pass on annual increases to the service availability or supply charge|
|Contract terms||Check how long the contract lasts and what happens when the contract expires. Does the retailer automatically roll over the contract and if so, what rate will you be paying?|
|Moving house||Check to see if you are able to transfer the contract to another property and if there are any fees associated with this. Note that some retailers charge a disconnection fee when customers leave a property.|
|Billing||Check how often you will receive a bill as this can vary between companies (from once a month to once every six months).|
|Payment||Check how the retailer accepts payment (eg do they offer direct debit, can you pay your bill at the post office). Note that some retailers charge a fee for payments made by credit card.|
|Fees and charges||Some contracts may include a range of fixed charges such as a special meter reading fee to start the contract, a monthly fee if you don’t agree to pay by direct debit, an account establishment fee and late payment fees.|
|Early termination fees||If you cancel a contract early, you may have to pay a fee. The fee must be specified in the terms and conditions before you agree to or sign a contract.|
|Pensioner rebate||If you are entitled to a rebate, you should check with the retailer about how this is paid. The rebate can be paid quarterly, annually or every six months and this may affect your finances. If you choose to enter into a contract, check that your pension details have been applied to your account.|
There are a number of other commercial energy comparison websites which offer services to customers wanting to switch retailers. Many of the commercial websites that provide this service do not charge the customer a fee, however they typically receive a broker’s commission from participating energy retailers or their ‘preferred suppliers’.
If you are considering using a broker, ensure you have read and understood the terms and conditions of using their service. Due to the constantly changing nature of energy products, they may not be able to guarantee that the deal they offer you is the ‘cheapest’ or the ‘best’ product the retailer currently offers.
- Distributor: The company that owns the network and supplies electricity and/or gas to your home.
- Green energy: Renewable or green energy is produced from sources such as the sun, wind, water and waste.
- Retailer: The company that bills you for electricity and/or gas.
- Marketer: The salesperson who contacts you on behalf of an energy retailer. They must follow the rules contained in the Marketing Code.
- Market contract: An energy supply agreement entered into between you and a retailer.
- Regulated offer: The gas or electricity contract offered by a ‘regulated retailer’* under a Standard Customer Contract. The terms and conditions of this contract were determined by IPART. These offers ceased to exist in NSW following deregulation in 2014 and customers still on these offers on 30 June 2014 were moved onto a transitional arrangement. *The energy retailer that historically supplied electricity and/or gas to a given premises and supplied electricity and/or gas if the occupant did not enter into a market contract.
- Standard retailer: The retailer responsible by law for supplying you with gas or electricity under a standard form contract.
- Standing offer: A retailer's standard retail contract for small customers. The prices for these offers are not regulated, and may be higher than more competitive discounted tariffs offered with market contracts.
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