CHOICE says half of Australians surveyed not confident in their recent electricity decision
New research by CHOICE into consumers’ attitudes to electricity retailing and marketing shows only 8% of respondents rank their provider as ‘excellent’. This compares to 14% of respondents who rated their bank as ‘excellent’ in CHOICE’s last member bank satisfaction survey.
The CHOICE survey of 1,000 Australians also found that only half of those who joined their electricity retailer in the last three years were confident they had made the best choice.1
Confidence was even lower amongst those who had switched through door-to-door sales or telemarketers, while an alarming 5% of respondents who switched said it happened without their permission.2
“The unprecedented electricity bill increases of recent years have caused a huge amount of anxiety, and this has been exploited by marketing that is often intrusive, such as door-to-door sales, and sometimes misleading,” says CHOICE CEO Mr Alan Kirkland.
“Australia’s electricity market is clearly not helping consumers make informed or confident decisions about this essential – and increasingly expensive - service.”
Key findings include:
One third of respondents who recently joined their provider said they had tried to compare providers but had found it was too hard to work out the best choice.
25% or less of respondents rated their electricity provider as ‘very good’ or better across the categories of value for money, customer service, helping customers understand how to reduce usage, and updating them on key issues such as electricity prices.
Satisfaction with providers was low across the board, though TRUenergy’s customers gave them a comparatively high rating for keeping them informed on key issues like price rises.
“These findings paint a picture of an electricity market where concern about costs is high, consumer information is poor, and the fight between retailers to get customers to switch is a proxy for genuine competition,” Mr Kirkland says.
“To some extent, low satisfaction reflects the fact that retailers are often the bearers of bad news, in the form of price increases that have largely been driven by the costs of electricity poles and wires.
“But retailers also have a crucial role to play in many of the solutions to reduce the pressure on household electricity bills.
“If we do not see significantly better information and protections to help consumers navigate the complex energy market, then many of the reforms proposed to reduce pressure on bills are unlikely to work,” Mr Kirkland says.
CHOICE has made several recommendations to the current Senate Inquiry into electricity prices, to provide households with better information on their energy consumption and reduce the pressure on bills, including:
Participation from all states and territories in the Australian Energy Regulator’s unbiased energymadeeasy.gov.au comparison website;3 and
Fast-tracking proposals to empower consumers with access to their own consumption data and drive innovation in energy retailing.4
CHOICE is also calling on Australians to join the Take the Power Back campaign at www.choice.com.au/takethepowerback and tell Federal, State and Territory energy ministers to fix our broken energy system.
Read the full CHOICE report into electricity retailing and marketing.
Media contact: Ingrid Just, CHOICE head of media – 0430 172 669
Notes to editors:
CHOICE conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,020 online Australian household energy decision makers in June this year. Of the 413 who had joined their electricity retailer in the past three years, only 52% were confident they had made the best choice.
55% of the switchers who responded to a direct marketing offer were not confident they made the best choice.
Only the ACT and Tasmania signed up to the Australian Energy Regulator’s energymadeeasy.gov.au website from its 1 July 2012 launch.
The Australian Government has released scoping study for consumer energy data access: http://www.ret.gov.au/ENERGY/ENERGY_MARKETS/ELECTRICITY_MARKET_DEVELOPMENT/DATA/Pages/default.aspx