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Annual Report 2015/2016

Welcome to EWON's 2015/2016 Annual Report.

The 2015/2016 financial year has been a busy time for EWON. Although we are experiencing a decline in complaint numbers, our policy and community engagement work is increasing to keep pace with the changing face of the energy and water industries. Explore more of our work this year by clicking through our statistics, or reading the articles down the right hand side of the page.

View the media release | Download the PDF version [9.7 MB]

  • Our year at a glance
  • The big picture
  • Complaints this year
  • Complaint issues
  • Resolutions & outcomes

Cases received by EWON from 2010/2011 to 2016/2017

  • There were 59 non energy or water cases

Cases received by primary issue

  • Customers may raise more than one issue per complaint
  • 23760 cases received
  • 24293* cases closed
  • 7,174 cases investigated

*More complaints were resolved than registered due to complaints being carried forward from the previous financial year and resolved in the current year

How we received complaints

Case received

Investigation outcomes

Outcome Total
No further investigation 984
Negotiated resolution 5061
Facilitated resolution 1520

EWON received 23,760 complaints in 2015/2016, down 22% from the 30,402 complaints received in 2014/2015

This is the second consecutive year our complaint numbers have decreased, allowing us once again to close more cases than we received, despite the increased complexity of many of the complaints. We received 383 general enquiries, 6,950 complaint enquiries and referred 9,253 cases back to the provider at a higher level. Of the complaints we received, 30% (7,174) were investigated, down from 35% in 2014/2015. The Ombudsman made no determinations (binding decisions) in 2015/2016. Most of the complaints we received were about electricity, accounting for 73% (17,299) of all complaints. However, this represented a 25% reduction in electricity’s share of our complaints from 2014/2015. Water complaints also decreased in the year (791 complaints down from 906 in 2014/2015), remaining stable at around 3% of total complaints.

On the other hand, gas complaints increased in volume and share, accounting for 24% (5,632) of total complaints, up from 18% the previous financial year. Billing remained the biggest issue for our customers with 59% (14,109) of all cases involving a billing issue. Other significant issues were customer service in 42% of cases, credit at 28% and transfer issues at 12%. This pattern is consistent with 2014/2015.

Case level by industry

Level Total
General enquiry 372
Complaint enquiry 6923
Refer higher level 9253
Level 1 5105
Level 2 1375
Level 3 694

Complaints by gender

How customers heard about us

Method Total
Knew about EWON 6660
Outreach and awareness 5122
EWON experience 4839
Energy/water provider 2860
Not known 1485
Government 1381
Word of Mouth 945
Community Organisation 396
Media 70
Regulator 2

12% of customers heard about us through their energy or water provider. Providers are required to advise their customers of our services.

Year to year comparison

Year Cases opened Cases closed
2011/2012 25311 25162
2012/2013 37250 36373
2013/2014 37456 38299
2014/2015 30402 30494
2015/2016 23760 24293

Retail / distribution comparison

 Industry  Retail/distribution 2015/2016 % Change from 2014/2015
Electricity Retailer 15,659 -27%
  Distributor 1,077 -6%
  Exempt retailer 93 -1%
  Other* 470 +2%
Gas Retailer 5,379 -1%
  Distributor 214 +57%
  Exempt retailer 7 +40%
  Other* 32 +60%
Water Retailer 530 -11%
  Distributor 223 -21%
  Exempt retailer 4 N/A
  Other* 34 +6%
Non energy / Non water General enquiry 38 -5%
TOTAL:   23,760 -22%

*Non-provider specific, out of jurisdiction

  • Electricity 73%
  • Gas 24%
  • Water 3% 
  • 57% increase in complaints about gas distribution

Complaints per 10,000 people by NSW region

Region 2014/2015 2015/2016
Sydney Surrounds 43 34
Sydney Outer 38 31
Sydney Inner 57 48
South Eastern 50 35
Richmond-Tweed 44 31
Northern 42 30
North Western 60 40
Murrumbidgee 48 40
Murray 74 51
Mid North Coast 46 29
Illawarra 74 51
Murray 45 32
Hunter 43 32
Far West 50 43
Central West 60 50

Complaints by Local Government Area (Per 1,000)

LGA Complaints per 1000
Sydney 14
Oberon 8
Cootamundra 6
Young 6
Orange 6
Warren 6
Berrigan 6
Brewarrina 6
Greater Hume Shire 6
Bathurst Regional 6
Murray 6
Balranald 6
Jerilderie 6
Coonamble 5
Blayney 5
Lachlan 5
Albury 5
Lithgow 5
Cowra 5
Corowa Shire 5
Harden 5
Cobar 5
Wingecarribee 5
Coolamon 5
Parramatta 5
Wellington 5
Leeton 5
Strathfield 5
Wentworth 5
Blue Mountains 5
Holroyd 5
Central Darling 5
North Sydney 5
Warrumbungle Shire 4
Botany Bay 4
Urana 4
Dungog 4
Wagga Wagga 4
Junee 4
Broken Hill 4
Mid-Western Regional 4
Waverley 4
Canada Bay 4
Goulburn Mulwaree 4
Yass Valley 4
Marrickville 4
Bourke 4
Moree Plains 4
Maitland 4
Cessnock 4
Richmond Valley 4
Wakool 4
Conargo 4
Willoughby 4
Queanbeyan 4
Dubbo 4
Gundagai 4
Blacktown 4
Forbes 4
Burwood 4
Bellingen 4
Camden 4
Liverpool 4
Leichhardt 4
Deniliquin 4
Lismore 4
Weddin 4
Auburn 4
Newcastle 3
Wyong 3
Snowy River 3
Gilgandra 3
Kyogle 3
Campbelltown 3
Penrith 3
Randwick 3
Canterbury 3
Shoalhaven 3
Gosford 3
Rockdale 3
Kempsey 3
Cabonne 3
Narromine 3
Wollongong 3
Tamworth Regional 3
Greater Taree 3
Bland 3
Cooma-Monaro 3
Glen Innes Severn 3
Uralla 3
Ryde 3
Bankstown 3
Griffith 3
Manly 3
Narrandera 3
Tumut Shire 3
Woollahra 3
Gunnedah 3
Inverell 3
Eurobodalla 3
Clarence Valley 3
Port Stephens 3
Great Lakes 3
Upper Lachlan 3
Palerang 3
Parkes 3
Tweed 3
Tumbarumba 3
Muswellbrook 3
Singleton 3
Armidale Dumaresq 3
Nambucca 3
Coffs Harbour 3
Ashfield 3
Boorowa 3
Narrabri 3
Ballina 3
Tenterfield 3
Hawkesbury 3
Mosman 3
Lake Macquarie 3
Baulkham Hills 3
Byron 3
Guyra 3
Fairfield 3
Hornsby 3
Hastings 3
Walgett 3
Pittwater 3
Lane Cove 3
Walcha 3
Hurstville 3
Hunter's Hill 3
Wollondilly 2
Upper Hunter Shire 2
Hay 2
Warringah 2
Shellharbour 2
Lockhart 2
Bega Valley 2
Ku-ring-gai 2
Bogan 2
Kogarah 2
Carrathool 2
Gwydir 2
Kiama 2
Temora 2
Sutherland Shire 2
Liverpool Plains 2
Murrumbidgee 2
Bombala 1
Gloucester 1

At EWON we only open one case when a customer contacts us about an energy or water complaint. Sometimes, customers experience more than one issue when they register a complaint, such as a high bill and poor customer service. Therefore the number of issues we record is greater than the number of total cases we receive.

Complaints by primary issue

Complaints 2014/2015 2015/2016
Billing 17845 14109
Customer service 11808 9887
Credit 8588 6644
Transfer 4262 2888
General 732 734
Provision 504 516
Supply 476 461
Marketing 604 397
Land 432 373
  • 21% decrease in billing related complaints
  • 16% decrease in customer service related complaints
  • 23% decrease in credit related complaints
  • 32% decrease in transfer related complaints
  • 2% increase in provision related complaints
  • 3% decrease in supply related complaints
  • 34% decrease in marketing related complaints
  • 14% decrease in land related complaints
  • 39% Of all issues raised were about billing

How we categorise complaint issues

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
Transfer: error in billing or transfer of account due to switching providers, contract terms, delay in transfer, site ownership
Marketing: conduct by marketers, misleading information, pressure, non-account holder signed up
Supply: quality, damage/loss, outages
Land: impact of network assets, maintenance, environment
Provision: problems with new or existing connections
General: non-energy/water-related, contractors.

Snapshot of customer complaints and issues

Billing

14,109 complaints involved billing issues

Issue No. complaints
High or disputed account 6,262
Estimated account, meter not read 2,820
Opening or closing account 2,527
Billing error 2,261
Fees and charges 1,347
Backbilling 1,230
Tariff (feed-in or TOU, prices) 1,072
Billing period 1,038
Delayed bill or bill not received 864
Rebate/ concession 640
Refund or credit 521
Other 487
Meter 362
Format 134
Debt transfer 78

Customer service

9,887 complaints involved customer service issues

Issue No. complaints
Poor service 4,581
Failure to respond 3,196
Incorrect advice or  information provided 1,559
Failure to consult or inform 999
Business to business 557
Unprofessional attitude 270
Privacy 128
Online 66

Credit

6,644 complaints involved credit issues

Issue No. complaints
Payment difficulties 2,823
Collection 2,817
Disconnection / restriction 2,462

Transfer

2,888 complaints involved transfer issues

Issue No. complaints
Site ownership 723
Contract terms  700
Transfer in error 573
Transfer without consent 442
Delay 410
Billing problems 230
Cooling off rights 118
Request for transfer rejected 84

Provision

516 complaints involved provision issues

Issue No. complaints
Existing connection (e.g. cost of alteration, maintenance) 341
New connection 135
Disconnection / restriction 55

Supply

461 complaints involved supply issues

Issue No. complaints
Supply off (unplanned) 188
Supply off (planned) 159
Supply variation 57
Quality 39
Sewer overflow / blockage 32
Water restriction 1

Marketing

397 complaints involved marketing issues

Issue No. complaints
Misled by marketers 186
Information 83
Other 74
Pressure into signing agreement or contract 62
Non account holder approached for consent 27

Land

373 complaints involved land issues

Issue No. complaints
Network assets (maintenance or placement) 185
Property damage / restoration 125
Vegetation management 65
Easement 26
Street lighting 22
Other 13

734 complaints involved general issues

Some customers experience more than one issue when they register a complaint

Complaint closure type from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016

Year Total
2011/2012 25162
2012/2013 36373
2013/2014 38299
2014/2015 30494
2015/2016 24293
  • 20% decrease in overall complaints closed
  • 60% increase in investigations closed at level 3
  • 85% of cases were finalised within 30 days

Time taken to finalise complaints

0 < 2 2 < 14 days 14 < 30 days 30 < 90 days 90 < 180 days >180 days
11,961 7,149 1,469 2,233 1,078 403

No wrong door

Where a customer has not contacted their provider in the first instance, we provide advice about their rights and responsibilities and refer them to their energy or water provider. Other customers require broader assistance than what is within EWON’s jurisdiction. We work closely with other organisations and refer customers as required.

Referral Number
Energy/water provider 5,219
Community agency/ Energy Accounts Payment Assistance/water Payment Assistance Scheme 1,351
Provider hardship team 729
Financial counsellor 561
NSW Fair Trading/NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal 500
Another Ombudsman 324
Other government agency 310
AER/Energy Made Easy website 254
Legal/tenancy advisor 223
Private contractor 133
Department/ Minister for Energy/Water 33
Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal 21

188% Increase in referrals to a financial counsellor, again reflecting increasing affordability issues

Explanation of terms

General enquiry: a customer contact that may be about an energy or water matter but is not a complaint and/or is out of jurisdiction
Complaint enquiry:
a request for information or assistance that can be settled or referred quickly
Refer to higher level (RHL):
a complaint referred to the energy or water provider’s specialist dispute resolution team
Investigation:
EWON investigates and negotiates an outcome when a complaint cannot be resolved between the customer and the provider.

Complaints by issue TEST

Total water cases TEST