Switching energy retailers leaves some customers confused and paying more

23 March 2023

A growing number of energy customers face confusion and financial disadvantage when trying to switch retailers under the new ‘two-day switching’ model. 
A new report from the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON) describes the unexpected consequences emerging from the new two-day switching process of transferring energy providers. Customers contacting EWON are confused, unhappy with unexpected bills they don’t understand and frustrated that the process of changing provider wasn’t clearly explained to them by their new retailer.

“We are highlighting these emerging transfer issues now before they undermine consumer trust and engagement – the very things two-day switching was designed to increase,” says Janine Young, Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW.

Two-day switching rules came into effect in 2021 further empowering customers to make choices that suit their circumstances. The changes enabled switching within as little as two business days, instead of having to use the next scheduled meter read as the transfer date allowing transfers on the prior, or an estimated, meter read.  

EWON supported the 2019 rule change – and still strongly supports it today. However, COVID-19, recent economic pressures, energy price volatility, and increased debt have created a very different environment for the rules to operate in. 

“Cost of living pressures mean customers are now looking to reduce costs wherever possible – switching retailers for a better deal has never been more urgent, so switching arrangements need to be aligned with this,” says Ms Young.

“Retailers have the flexibility to choose how customers transfer to them, based on the circumstances of each customer. Some retailers are offering their customers a choice of when to switch, and are providing them with easy-to-understand switching information, ensuring a smooth and effective transfer process for customers."

EWON is developing a stakeholder engagement plan to engage with and leverage industry knowledge to address these issues. “We urge retailers and regulators to come together to identify and action solutions to improve the consumer experience while maintaining consumer protections,” says Ms Young.

Read the full report including case studies here

For queries about policy issues raised in the report, please contact Policy Manager Rory Campbell. To request an interview with the Ombudsman please email Jacqueline Heywood, Communications Officer or call 0426 822 341.