Affordability hits home as energy complaints increase nearly 60% after mid-year price increases

6 November 2023 

The Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) received 7,029 complaints in July to September 2023, an increase of 2,585 complaints, 58.2% compared to prior quarter. 

Increased energy prices and cost of living stress were the major drivers of increased complaints. Compared to the June 2023 quarter, during the September 2023 quarter we received: 

  • 2,872 high bill complaints, up 70%  
  • 253 payment difficulty complaints, up 27%  
  • 223 price increase complaints, up 49%  
  • 222 complaints about rebate and concession errors, up from 93. 

Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW, Janine Young said winter bills reflecting higher winter energy usage compounded the impact of significant price increases from 1 July 2023.  

In a time of heightened energy affordability stress and cost of living pressures, customers are more closely scrutinising their bills and their eligibility for other assistance, leading to increased complaints about rebates to EWON.  

“The longstanding issue of customers not being able to manage their accumulated energy debt is now being replaced by a wider cohort of customers struggling to afford their most recent bill,” Ms Young said. 

The EWON Insights report also explores the increased use of retailer phone apps which can be incorrect or unreliable and are not currently regulated through the National Energy Customer Framework (NECF).  

“When things go wrong, and the retailers’ digital platforms do not work as promised, customers may feel they have been misled by a retailer, they lose trust, leading to more complaints to EWON. The reliability of these services will become even critical as customers obtain smart meters and engage with their energy provider digitally,” Ms Young said.  

Read the full report including case studies

To request an interview with the Ombudsman please email Jacqueline Heywood.