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EWONews Issue 42

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A message from the Ombudsman

I am very proud to release EWON’s Approach to Dealing with Family Violence, our first formal step to ensure we support consumers who are, or have been affected, directly or indirectly, by family violence. Through our complaints handling work over many years, we have been conscious of the impacts of family violence. Our focus now is to build support into the fabric of our day-to-day work and to work with members and stakeholders to drive sustainable outcomes. Read more about EWON’s family violence initiatives in my blog

AER retail markets report

The Australian Energy Regulator released its (AER) Annual retail markets report 2018-19 on 27 November. For the first time it includes information about credit listing of customers by energy retailers and identifies that most credit listings are for debts of $500 or less – a fact we see too often in our complaint management. 

A customer’s inability to pay a debt of $500 or less is very often an energy affordability indicator. These customers need additional support from retailers such as a payment plan to pay a final bill; not a default listing. The AER’s new Hardship Guideline obligations require retailers to improve their work with customers including by offering them affordable payment plans. Another driver of default listings, in our experience, is that final bills are not forwarded to new addresses provided by customers - home or email – an easy fix for retailers.

Importantly, customers who are default listed should avoid engaging credit repair agents – many charge significant fees for work EWON undertakes at no cost to the consumer.

2018/2019 Annual Report

21 years of EWON – then and now, was released in October. It provides comprehensive information about EWON’s 2018/2019 activities and also highlights from our rich history. If you haven’t seen it yet, download it from our website or watch a short video overview – we’d love your feedback!

Energy retailer assistance for people affected by bushfires

As bushfires continue to burn across NSW, our thoughts are with those who have been affected. In addition to drought assistance, energy retailers are offering consumers affected by bushfires a range of assistance including bill credits, waiving debt and providing advice about accessing government assistance. This assistance is just a phone call away – so ring your retailer.

Best wishes for the festive season.

Janine Young
Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW