For the top core issues, including the previous four quarters, click here.

The increase in overall complaints this quarter is not surprising. EWON anticipated complaints would begin to rise over the past several months given pressures in the energy market including:  

  • multiple Retailer of Last Resort (RoLR) events  
  • an unprecedented temporary national energy market suspension 
  • ongoing COVID-19 impacts  
  • extreme weather events  
  • customers receiving notices of impending price increases.  

We anticipate a further rise in complaints as price increases kick in from 1 July 2022 and people begin to receive their winter bills. 

This is the first time Credit > Disconnection/restriction > Complete and Credit > Disconnection/restriction > Impending have been in the Top 10 Core Issues since EWON first started recording core issues for complaints in September 2020. Complaints related to disconnection of supply reduced after the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) introduced the first Statement of Expectations (SOE) in April 2020 to provide additional protections for residential and small business customers due to the impact of COVID-19, including restrictions on disconnections. The original SOE lifted on 30 June 2021, but was immediately replaced by the standby Statement of Expectations (Standby SOE) on 1 July 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 Delta wave. The Standby SOE automatically applied to any Local Government Area (LGA) under stay-at-home orders and was even more restrictive about disconnections than the original SOE. Consequently, complaints related to disconnections remained lower than historical levels throughout the period both Statements were in force. 

The Standby SOE lifted on 25 October 2021 and EWON complaints related to disconnection have increased steadily each quarter, but have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The AER noted a similar pattern in retailer disconnections in its retailer energy market performance data, current to the end of March 2022. Coupled with other pressures on customers, the increase in retailer disconnection activity is likely to continue driving complaints. Whether disconnection levels will ever return to pre-pandemic levels remains to be seen. Similarly, it is unclear whether retailer approaches to payment difficulty and debt recovery have been fundamentally altered by over two years of operating in an environment where disconnection was more restricted. 

For the top 10 issues, including the previous four quarters click here.