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Electricity embedded network customers gain access to free Ombudsman

As of 1 July 2018, Victorian electricity embedded networks customers will have access to the free dispute resolution services offered by the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV).

What are ‘Embedded networks’?

While most customers buy their electricity directly from an energy retailer, some customers buy from an ‘embedded network’. An embedded network is a private electricity network that supplies homes or businesses within a specific area; for example, some retirement villages buy electricity in bulk and then on-sell it to residents in the village.

What are the changes?

The new changes mean that if you live in a caravan park, retirement village or apartment block, you will have access to EWOV’s complaints process. Until now, the only help that EWOV was able to provide such customers was some general advice and referral (usually to Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

EWOV tracked the issues raised by these embedded network customers (from six months of data – October 2017 to March 2018). Some trends became evident:

  • Billing: common issues related to unexpectedly high bills and/or very large price increases without warning and being unable to get the provider to respond to customer concerns.

  • Credit: mostly about disconnection, including rejected requests for payment plans, refusal of extended time to pay, disconnection for low arrears, customers claiming they didn’t ever receive the bill, and high reconnection fees.

  • Transfer: mostly about being unable to switch to another provider.

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