The Victorian Government's Energy Compare website is an independent source of information with tips and tools to keep you informed about changes and improvements to Victoria's energy system. The website also includes an online tool which lets you compare all generally available electricity, gas and solar offers and find the best deal for your household.
Competition between retailers has many benefits for consumers, including cheaper energy bills. Victorians who choose their retailer typically save between 5 and 10 per cent.
Factors such as green energy, good customer service and special offers can also be taken into consideration when selecting a retailer.
You can make a complaint or resolve a dispute through the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)
The Ombudsman has the power to investigate and resolve disputes between consumers and energy companies. The aim is to settle problems fairly and independently, and as promptly as possible.
Complaints can be lodged on-line or via telephone 1800 500 509. There is no charge to customers for this service.
Customers living in apartment buildings, caravan parks, shopping centres and retirement villages can now access to the Ombudsman to help resolve their electricity complaints and will soon have greater clarity regarding their consumer protections from the Essential Services Commission. For further information, see the attached fact sheet.
If you are considering changing energy supplier remember to always:
- read and understand documents before signing or agreeing to anything
- take time to consider if an agreement is right for you
- check with your current retailer whether cancelling fees apply if you switch
- shop around for the best deal by using the Victorian Energy Compare website
If you don't select retail offers for your property, you will be supplied gas or electricity by your current or most recent retailer at a default rate – this is known as a 'standing offer' tariff and is a Victorian government requirement.
Keep in mind that if you're dealing with door to door sales people or telemarketers you still have up to 10 business days to cool off (change your mind) about an agreement.
Protection and safeguards
Regardless of which retailer you choose, you will be protected by a range of safeguard.
- Find out about the Energy retail code by visiting the Essential Services Commission website
- Learn about your rights when dealing with energy salespeople. Visit the Consumer Affairs website
- Call the Energy and Earth Resources Customer Service Centre on 136 186
Energy retail code
The Energy Retail Code sets out a range of protections for energy consumers.
Key features of the Code are that:
- You must be billed based on either an actual or estimated meter reading. Retailers must make "best endeavours" to read your meter at least once a year.
- You must receive an electricity bill at least every three months and a gas bill at least every two months.
- Your retailer must provide you with flexible payment options if you have a demonstrated incapacity to pay your bills.
- Retailers must gain your explicit informed consent when seeking to sign you up to a new energy contract or change a term in your existing contract, including an increase in price.
- You are entitled to a "cooling off" period when you sign a new energy contract, typically 10 days.