Latest complaint statistics

EWON has experienced a significant increase in complaints this financial year. Based on current complaint levels, we are projecting an increase of more than 30% in 2011/12 compared to 2010/11.

Overview 1 October 2011 - 31 March 2012

From October 2011 to March 2012, EWON finalised 12,027 cases, a 9% increase from the previous 6 month period. While the majority of complaints (72%) related to electricity retailers, complaints about gas and dual fuel also increased.

High and disputed bill complaints continued to dominate customer issues. Of growing concern however is the continuing increase in reports by consumers of debt collection and credit listing (up 14%) as well as difficulties negotiating payment plans (up 21%).

We are also concerned to see customers experiencing problems with transfer errors (+30%) and non-account holders being targeted by marketers (+31%).

Overall Total complaints closed 12027 %
Customers Residential customers  11520 (96%)
Small business customers 423 (4%)
Living in social housing* 333 (3%)
Receiving pension/benefits* 2030 (17%)
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander customers* 56 (<1%)
Culturally and linguistically diverse customers* 261 (2%)

*EWON does not routinely collect demographic information however  it is recorded if offered by the customer.

Complaints by industry

Industry Provider type Apr 2011 - Sept 2011 Oct 2011 - Mar 2012 % change
Electricity Retailer 7644 8689 +14
Distributor 712 571 -20%
Exempt Retailer 34 32 -6%
Other*  199 211 +6%
Gas Retailer 1492 1546 +4%
Distributor 56 60  +7%
Exempt Retailer 0 0 -%
Other* 14  5 -64%
Dual Fuel Retailer 388 426 +10%
Exempt Retailer* 0 1 -%
Other* 5 0 -100%
Non-energy/non-water Other* 39 38 -3%
Water Retailer 319 306 -4%
Distributor 147 126 -14%
Other* 24 16 -33%
Total 11073 12027 +9%

 *Non member specific, out of jurisdiction

Complaints by company

Legend: NSW retail customer bandwidth
 Above 1 million customers
 500,001 to 1 million customers
 100,000 to 500,000 customers
 under 100,000 customers

Energy Retailers No. complaints
ActewAGL 137
AGL 2788
Australian Power & Gas 604
Country Energy 611
Diamond Energy 1
Dodo Power and Gas 22
EnergyAustralia 1347
Integral Energy 1058
Jackgreen^ 90
Lumo Energy 187
Origin Energy 2454
Powerdirect 58
Red Energy 150
Sanctuary Energy 95
Simply Energy 2
TRUenergy 882

Energy Distrubutors No. complaints
ActewAGL Gas Distribution 1
Albury Gas Company 1
Ausgrid 266
Central Ranges Pipeline 1
Endeavour Energy 160
Envestra NSW 3
Essential Energy 136
Jemena 54
Transgrid 2

Water Distributors/Retailers No. complaints
Essential Energy** 5
Gosford City Council 10
Hunter Water 46
Shoalhaven Water 12
State Water 5
Sydney Water 314
Wyong Shire Council 7

There were no complaints received about Aurora Energy, APT Allgas, Momentum Energy, Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies or Water Factory Company.

^Suspended from the market
*These complaints were out of jurisdiction.
**Essential Energy is a water provider for Broken Hill customers only.

Snapshot of customer issues

Click to enlarge

Rising complaint trends

LGAs with increasing complaint numbers

Local Government Area Period 1* Period 2* Period 3*
Byron 11 48 72
Clarence Valley 26 66 87
Hastings 50 108 136
Tweed 71 108 144

Rising complaint issues

Issue Period 1* Period 2* Period 3*
Feed-in tariff 312 554 607
Poor customer service
1039 1236 1432
Disconnection 400 534 490
Failure to respond
609 670 806

*Period 1: Oct 2010-Mar 2011
  Period 2: Apr 2011-Sept 2011
  Period 3: Oct 2011-Mar 2012

All customer issues

Issues Apr 2011 - Sep 2011 Oct 2011 - Mar 2012 % Change
Billing  
High bill or disputed account  2203 2708 +23%
Tariff 999 1020 +2%
Opening/closing account 387 710 +83%
Fees & charges 659 646 -2%
Error 496 606 +22%
Credit
Arrears or utility debt 1139 1140 0%
Facing disconnection
for non-payment
884 931 +5%
Debt collection or credit default listing 682 780 +14%
Disconnected due to non-payment 534 490  -8%
Denied an extension
or payment plan
197 239 +21%
Marketing
Misled by marketers 560 535 -4%
Pressured into signing or
agreeing to a contract
177 182 +3%
Non-account holder
approached for consent
75 98 +31%
Transfer
Problems with the contract terms (variation in price, termination fee) 657 701 +7%
Did not consent to the transfer 479 469  -2%
Site ownership or disconnected
in error due to transfer
254 317 +25%
Transferred in error  182 236 +30%

HOW WE CATEGORISE COMPLAINT ISSUES
Note: There may be more than one issue raised per complaint

    • Billing - high and disputed bills, fees and charges, responsibility for accounts
    • Credit - disconnection, arrears, difficulty in payment, payment arrangement declined, debt collection
    • Customer service - failure to respond, incorrect advice, poor attitude/service
    • Land - impact of network assets, maintenance, environment
    • Marketing - conduct by marketers, misleading information, pressure, non-account holder signed up
    • Provision - problems with new or existing connections
    • Supply - quality, damage/loss, outages
    • Transfer - error in billing or account transfer due to switching retailers, contract terms, transfer delay, site ownership
    • General - non-energy/non-water related, contractors

PLEASE NOTE: On 1 March 2011 TRUenergy purchased the retail arm of EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy purchased the retail arms of Country Energy and Integral Energy. Complaint data for EnergyAustralia, Country Energy and Integral Energy has ben reported separately for the period and has not been rolled into TRUenergy and Origin Energy data post 1 March 2011.