Embedded network complaints and case studies

Pie chart showing embedded network complaints received Jan-Mar 2021

This quarter EWON opened 128 complaints from embedded network customers. These customers were complaining about a range of energy service providers: 

  • Authorised energy retailers: 98 
  • Exempt electricity sellers: 17 
  • Authorised gas retailers: 11 
  • Electricity network exempt: 1 
  • Electricity (not allocated): 1  

EWON closed 110 complaints from customers whose electricity or gas is supplied through an embedded network in the quarter. 

Table 7 - Top issues for embedded network complaints closed this quarter  

Complaint issues Cases
Complaint > high > disputed 31
Customer service > poor service 21
Billing > opening / closing account 17
Billing > tariff > rate 12
Billing > backbill 8
Customer service > failure to respond 7
General > energy / water 7
Billing > tariff > information 7
Billing > delay 6
Billing > fees and charges > service availability 5

Limited financial support 

Customers within embedded networks do not have access to the same financial support options that other customers have. The Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) scheme is not available to customers within embedded networks. While some rebates are available, the application process for these customers can be unclear. This case study highlights the challenges that may arise when seeking rebates. 

Case studies 

Customer in embedded network unable to access rebates 

A customer lived in community housing within an embedded electricity network. She said that she was unable to access Energy Accounts Payment Assistance (EAPA) and had tried to get the Low Income Household Rebate applied to her electricity account. She said her retailer referred her to Service NSW but it referred her back to the retailer. She had spent several weeks trying to obtain the Rebate but was unsuccessful. Additionally, she said that because she lived in an embedded network, there were no discounts on bills offered and was concerned that this could potentially impact all residents in her building. 

EWON told the customer that because it is an embedded network, she needed to apply for the Rebate directly with the NSW Government via Service NSW. We told her that we do not assess eligibility or administer rebates and that the retailer could not apply the Rebate on her behalf. We provided contact details for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment rebates team for enquiries about the Rebate and her application. We also advised that rebates could not be applied to bundled services, such as unmetered gas, hot water bills and recycled water. 

Customers experiencing financial difficulties 

Financial difficulties may lead to customers being unable to pay their bills, make required payments for payment plans, and/or be at risk of disconnection. This case study highlights the complexity of financial difficulties for a COVID-19 impacted customer, leading to disconnection. 

Case studies 

Customer unable to afford payment plan 

A customer’s electricity was disconnected for non-payment. She said she had not received any notices before the disconnection occurred and that she was experiencing financial issues due to being impacted by COVID-19. The customer said she spoke to the authorised retailer that serviced the embedded network she lived in about how much she could afford for a payment plan, but the retailer said it was not enough to cover the balance and her ongoing charges. She told us she could not afford to pay a higher amount and her retailer was not willing to negotiate. 

EWON investigated the complaint. We told the customer that the retailer had arranged the reconnection of supply. We also advised her that the retailer would like her to make contact to arrange a payment plan for the balance owing on her current electricity account. The account was put on hold for a short period to provide time for her to arrange a payment plan with the retailer. 

Similar complaints 

EWON has received other complaints about customers experiencing financial difficulties. In these cases, retailers and customers often agree to payment plans as part of the complaint resolution.