What can I complain about?
We recommend you try to sort out the problem with your provider first, but if the problem isn't fixed or you're not happy with its response, contact us by phone or submit a complaint online. You can contact us at any time in the process for independent advice.
High bills and disputed accounts
We can investigate a range of billing issues including:
- high bills or disputed accounts
- estimated bills
- backbills or 'catch up' bills
- billing delays
- errors with rebates or concessions.
Billing errors do sometimes happen, but it’s common for high bills to be caused by other factors such as:
- increased usage in different seasons (eg using the heater more in winter)
- faulty or new appliances
- more people living in the property
- tariff increases or changes (eg due to a meter change)
- 'catch up' bill following an under-read or estimated bill
- changes to a billing period
- first bill at a new address
- other charges on the account (including transferred arrears, miscellaneous fees).
Other, less common causes of high bills include:
- meter reading error
- cross wiring of the premises (eg where renovations have occurred)
- technical fault with the meter.
Billing investigations may take time to resolve, so we recommend you pay the part of the bill not in dispute. This will help you stay on top of your bills and show the retailer you are acting in good faith.
If you’re not experiencing serious affordability issues and appear to be using our investigation to avoid payment, we may close the investigation.
We can investigate a range of credit related issues including:
- negotiating an affordable payment plan
- if you have been denied an extension or instalment plan
- actual or impending disconnection or restriction
- getting reconnected
- accessing the Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) or Payment Assistance Scheme (PAS) for water
- arrears, debt collection or credit default listing.
If you are experiencing affordability issues, we can negotiate a payment plan with your provider, check for rebates you may be eligible for and refer you to community agencies offering financial support and other assistance.
All energy retailers in NSW have programs to help customers experiencing affordability issues to manage their bills. These programs offer payment arrangements, incentives for regular payments and exemptions from disconnection to eligible participants.
Read more on how you can get help paying bills.
Marketing or transfers
We investigate a range of complaints related to transfers of a customer’s account as a result of marketing practices, including:
- misleading or deceptive conduct by a marketer
- marketers not providing information, including information regarding your cooling-off rights, or instances where cooling-off requests have not been actioned
- pressure to sign or agree to a contract
- accounts transferred without an account holder's consent
- accounts transferred by a non-account holder
- accounts transferred in error
- delays in transferring an account
- transfer requests rejected by a retailer.
What can EWON do?
We can negotiate with your provider, review your contract conditions and provide advice and referral information.
We can help if you have a complaint about your electricity, gas or water connection. This includes problems getting a new connection or an issue with an existing connection. We can investigate your complaint, negotiate with your provider, provide new connection advice and referral information.
Depending on where you live, and whether you are classified as an urban or rural customer, or a developer, you may be liable for the costs of connecting or extending the network to your property, and ongoing maintenance or upgrade costs.
In areas where supply is not currently available, you may have to pay for the costs of extending the existing network to your property. If the new connection requires a main road to be excavated to connect your property to the gas mains under the street, there may be additional charges.
Unwanted existing connections
If you have a gas connection but are no longer using gas and want to avoid liability for any Service Available Charge (SAC) from a retailer, your options depend on whether you are a tenant or a home owner.
The landlord is responsible for paying the supply fee in these circumstances. It is a term of the Standard Form Agreement that the landlord agrees to pay all charges for the availability of gas to the residential premises if the tenant does not use gas supplied to the premises for any purpose.
Home owners have two options available
In this case the meter is left on the site but is disconnected. The gas distributor continues to read the meter for safety, however, it is removed from the market and no SAC is applied. The gas can be reconnected at a later time by contacting a retailer to establish an account. Charges may apply.
Decommissioning or relinquishing a site
In this case the supply is disconnected and the meter is removed. The meter is then deactivated in the market and no SAC is applied. If you wish to connect gas at the property in the future, you will need to apply for a brand new connection.
Charges apply for permanent disconnection and decommissioning, however, permanent disconnection is the cheaper option and is more easily reversible.
For new developments and connections you may have to pay a developer charge, which can sometimes run into tens of thousands of dollars.
We can investigate complaints about:
- the placement and maintenance of network assets
- health and safety concerns about any aspect of the network
- damage to private property caused by network operations
- vegetation management around power lines
- the right to acquire easements over private land for network purposes.
We can investigate complaints about land and supply issues, including:
- the quality of the electricity, gas and water supply
- damage or loss as a result of an event on the network.
Issues with quality of supply can include electricity voltage variations and low gas pressure. We have also received complaints about the taste or colour of drinking water - these concerns may be referred to NSW Health. Interruptions to supply can occur as a normal part of the network’s operation, and usually only cause minor inconvenience to customers.
If you believe your provider was responsible for damage to your property or household appliances, loss of food or any other loss, contact your provider. Usually it will ask you fill out a form or submit your claim in writing. If you are not satisfied with its response, you can ask us to investigate your case.
We can investigate a range of solar energy issues including:
- billing delays
- application of the feed-in tariff
- meter problems.
Closure of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme
The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme came to an end on 31 December 2016. After this date, all solar customers access the same market offers for unsubsidised feed-in tariffs. Read more about the scheme and feed-in tariffs.
Some solar complaints are out of our jurisdiction and we will usually refer customers to other agencies.
Who to speak to
NSW Solar Bonus Scheme or level of tariff
Misleading marketing regarding the solar product or work commissioned
Contractor or installation problems, quality of work or compliance issues
Where to find an accredited installer
Solar battery systems are an increasingly popular way for NSW homes to store the energy their solar panels generate. The NSW Home Solar Battery Guide can help you decide if battery storage is right for you.
Common hot water
If you live in a strata block of units and your hot water is supplied from a gas or electric hot water system located in a common area of the building that also supplies other units, this is known as a 'common hot water system'.
If you have a common hot water system, your retailer will calculate your bill by reconciling the amount of cold water supplied to the hot water system, the amount of energy used to heat the water, the number of units drawing from the system and the amount of hot water drawn by each unit, as measured by each unit’s hot water meter.
If some of the units in your strata block are unoccupied for a long period of time, the cost per unit for the common hot water system will be higher than when the block is fully occupied.
Can EWON investigate complaints about common hot water systems?
We can investigate billing disputes about hot water consumption charges where a gas or electricity common hot water system is installed.
We cannot investigate a complaint about:
- the efficiency, age or condition of the hot water system
- the occupancy rate of the dwelling
- action or inaction of a strata corporation, property manager or landlord (eg refusal to engage a licenced plumber to inspect the hot water system).
If your complaint involves strata corporations or tenant/landlord issues, you can contact NSW Fair Trading.
We can assist small businesses, educational institutions, strata corporations and not-for-profit organisations with energy complaints. Many of the complaints we receive from business customers relate to billing and contracts. We can also assist customers with disputes involving their classification as a large retail customer.
We access each business complaint on a case-by-case basis. To determine whether we can assist, we consider:
- whether it consumes more or less than 100 MWh electricity or 1,000 gigajoules (Gj) gas per year
- the number of staff employed
- the annual turnover of the business
- the capacity of the organisation to seek redress without our assistance.
For example, we may be able to assist a business customer who is a large energy or water consumer, but in terms of staff numbers, they fall within the Australian Bureau of Statistics definition of a small business (up to 20 staff).
If you live in a residential complex, residential park or a retirement village where electricity is supplied via an embedded network, you will be billed for usage by the owner or manager, who is the exempt seller of the electricity.
We can investigate issues with exempt sellers, provided your electricity supply is individually metered.
Issues we can investigate include:
- disputed accounts
- fees and charges
- disconnection of supply
- quality of supply.
Our investigations staff can:
- review the circumstances that led to the complaint
- provide you with information about how and what you should be charged
- try to negotiate a settlement between you and your provider
- refer you to appropriate organisations that may be able to help with your complaint
- suggest other ways of resolving the dispute, if necessary.
We will not contact an exempt seller unless you give us authority to do so.
Protections for embedded network customers
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) guidelines outline customer protections for residents in residential strata, retirement villages, caravan parks and residential parks. They include:
- flexible payment options if you are experiencing affordability issues
- clear and set time frames for receiving and paying bills
- complaints handling arrangements
- energy charges that are no greater than the standing offer prices a local area retailer can charge contracted customers
- clear and reasonable disconnection procedures.
All NSW energy rebates are now available to eligible customers in embedded networks. If you are a customer of an exempt entity visit the Energy Saver website to see if you're eligible and how to apply.
Retail or commercial customers
The AER guidelines outline protections for retail and commercial customers, including small businesses operating in shopping centres, and include:
- clear and reasonable disconnection procedures
- clear and set time frames for receiving and paying bills
- energy charges that are no greater than the standing offer prices a local area retailer can, in certain circumstances, charge their customers (only small retail and commercial customers without cost-effective access to a choice of retailer)
- complaint handling requirements.
How we help embedded network customers
Our jurisdiction allows us to receive and investigate complaints from embedded network customers.
Are you an exempt entity who might need to join EWON? See exempt entities.
All new electricity meters installed for residential and small business customers in NSW need to be advanced digital meters (sometimes called ‘smart’ meters). The older-style non-digital basic or accumulation meters will be phased out and replaced with digital meters over time.
What does this mean for customers?
- Energy retailers are now responsible for installing meters for residential and small business customers
- Digital meters will be installed whenever new or replacement meters are required.
- Retailers may roll out digital meters to individual or groups of customers, but customers may choose to opt out if their current meter is working provided they haven’t signed a contract stipulating otherwise.
For more information on the new metering installation timeframe, visit the AEMC website.
Benefits of digital meters
More frequent usage data
Digital meters provide information about electricity usage at least every half hour. This gives you the opportunity to monitor your usage and make changes to reduce your usage.
No more estimated usage readings
Digital meters can be read remotely, which means retailers don't need to do estimated reads.
Choose how often you get your bills
You can request bills monthly, making budgeting easier.
Faster switching and transfers
Digital meters make it quicker and easier to switch retailers when moving house. However, the NSW Government has placed a temporary moratorium on remote connections and disconnections because of safety concerns.
Things to be aware of
Time of Use (TOU) tariffs
Digital meters allow retailers to introduce TOU charges. If you can choose when to use appliances, you're likely to be better off on a TOU tariff. You do not have to go onto a TOU contract just because you have a digital meter.
Mobile signal needed for remote connections
Digital meters use the mobile phone network to transmit a signal. If you live in an area with weak or no mobile signal you may not be able to get the advantages of remote reads and automatic connections.
For more information about the metering reforms visit the AER website.
Out of jurisdiction
The following are examples of complaints that are out of our jurisdiction. Read more about what you can complain about.
We can't investigate complaints about private contractors engaged by the customer (electricians, plumbers and gas fitters). This includes contracting arms of electricity, gas and water providers where the work is open to competitive quotation. If your problem relates to a private contractor, contact Fair Trading NSW.
We can provide advice to tenants about high bills caused by a fixed appliance (eg hot water heater) but we do not resolve disputes with landlords. Advice about these issues is available from Fair Trading NSW or Tenants NSW.
Complaints about LPG (bottled gas) providers are out of our jurisdiction. Please contact Fair Trading NSW for assistance with LPG complaints.
Electricity prices are set by the retailers. Frequency of price changes will depend on the terms of your contract.
We have no role or authority in setting prices and we're not able to investigate complaints about price increases. We can review whether charges and tariffs have been correctly applied to an account. If you receive a bill that you think does not accurately reflect your usage, and your retailer can't explain it or you are not satisfied with their response, you can contact us for help.