Victoria leads customer switching in Australia

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Victoria continues to lead customer switching in Australia, with rates around 8% for both electricity and gas retailer switching over the year June 2012-2013, the Australian Energy Regulator’s first annual retail energy market report reveals.

These rates have also both increased, with electricity switching up by about 1.5% and gas switching up by about 2% over the previous June 2011-2012 period.

Likewise switching rates have increased in New South Wales, which now has the second highest rates for both electricity and gas (about 6.5% and 5% respectively). In previously second place South Australia the rates remained steady, while in Queensland they decreased slightly over the year to around 3% for electricity and 2.5% for gas.

In ACT the rates for both electricity and gas are less than 1%, which could be considered “dormant”, the report notes, saying this may be explained by the small number of retailers, coupled with the relatively high level of satisfaction with ActewAGL. Nevertheless, the number of customers in ACT switching to other retailers or to market contracts (particularly for gas) has increased noticeably of late.

Other findings in the report include:

  • There were 33,158 customers on prepayment in Tasmania at June 30, 2013. The number has gradually decreased in recent years as customers have elected to revert to standard metering – however, although demand for prepayment meters remains strong, supply issues with meters are preventing further uptake by customers.
  • Generally retailers are providing high customer service levels, with most answering phone calls within one minute, and only a small percentage of abandoned calls. However, a number of retailers had wait times of over two minutes and higher levels of abandoned calls.
  • Billing, prices, and overcharging were the main reasons that customers complained to their retailer, with many complaints escalated to the relevant energy ombudsman.
  • Retailers disconnected fewer than 2% of their customers for non-payment, with the exception of Alinta Energy, which disconnected over 7%.
  • Benchmark low income households, in receipt of a concession, spent between 2.9% and 7.8% of annual disposable income on electricity bills, and between 1.4% and 3.4% on gas bills.