Customer Hardship Policy Guideline released

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) released a Customer Hardship Policy Guideline (the Guideline) on Friday 29 March 2019. 

The new Guideline will strengthen protections for consumers in hardship – a positive step in improving energy retailer support for customers experiencing energy affordability issues. The Guideline also seeks to address concerning trends such as a fall in the number of customers accessing retailer affordability programs, while customer energy debt increases.

The Guideline outlines important responsibilities that retailers will need to comply with from 2 April 2019. The Guideline requires retailers to have steps in place to help customers prevent and manage debt; actively engage them throughout their affordability program experience; provide them with clear, consistent and transparent information about their rights and retailers’ responsibilities. 

Retailers now have two months to submit their updated policies to the AER for approval.

In submissions to the AER and Australian Energy Market Commission to inform the development of the new Hardship Guideline and the accompanying rule change, EWON identified a range of issues with retailer affordability support. Read our submission (PDF) and media release (PDF).

Update: this guideline has been made enforceable as of 2 October 2019. Read more on the AER website.