Switching Electricity Providers Is Too Hard For Most Australians

Switching Electricity Providers Is Too Hard For Most Australians

In most Australian states, you can choose between a number of electricity providers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a good deal. A survey of 1020 Australians by consumer advocate CHOICE suggests that barely half of those who have changed power companies are sure they made the right choice.

Picture by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

413 of that group had changed power companies in the previous three years, but just 52 per cent were confident with their choice. One-third said they had tried to compare offers but found it difficult, which isn’t surprising: electricity bills include a confusing mix of peak and off-peak offers, and the mix is muddied further by discounts for on-time payment and unexpected rates rises.

The most disturbing figure in the survey? Five per cent of people said they had been switched to another provider without their permission. That’s yet another reason to say no when electricity salespeople come knocking.

Energy retailers’ marketing tactics [CHOICE]


  • I’ve tried in the past to compare electricity pricing, it’s a near impossible task. Every company packages their services differently making direct comparisons very difficult. Combined with the fact I don’t know what I’m eligible for (can I get peak/off-peak rates?) it makes the whole process daunting and frustrating. I’d like to see simple comparison numbers provided, or mandated to be provided, by these companies. Much the same as you get comparison rates from banks, or unit pricing in supermarkets.

    • I think they are about to change the rules, so that every bill from every company is laid out the same way, with the same info. Just because of the problem you voiced here, can’t wait. 😉

  • We have changed providers a number of times over the past 7 years, twice this has resulted in us not receiving a bill for our electricity usages for a year or more until we have felt guilty and contacted them or some other event has brought it to the providers attention.
    We have just found out that (in NSW at least) an electricity provider can not charge you for more than 9 months of usage in arrears, meaning changing for us is defiantly cheaper. The only risk being a bill for 9 months usage when they realise.

    • Yeah, ideally, that is what should happen – they forget to send you a bill, and you don’t get a bill until they realise and charge you for 9 months. What happened with us was that they forgot to send a bill, then turned off our electricity for not paying our bill. Only until after we rang them to complain did they re-enable our electricity and we had to call them twice more before we finally got an actual bill. Gotta love customer service on necessary utilities… sigh.

  • Electricity retailers are Gangsters out to get your money only. I wanted to switch, each time calculated what it would cost me and even though competitor gave $50+ to switch, the sums came back same or higher that current. Graph the price raises for each retailer and you see that you’ll pay same if you switch. This all in light of supply price to retails being lowered!

  • Count yourself lucky – you are talking a few dollars difference between the companies each month and a whole load of pain figuring it out and keep the door knockers away. I pay 85 c/day supply charge and 24 c/unit. In WA from what i can see you pay 42 c/day and 24 c/unit. I would guess you pay $150 LESS than me. I could switch to dodo, be locked into a contract and save ~$80 a year, but then i have to figure out the gas side of it.

    Do you really want choice in WA if it costs you more and is just a pain?

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