Victorian energy retailers are breaching customer protections and wrongfully disconnecting people from their essential energy supplies at a growing and alarming rate and must be reined in, according to the Victorian Council of Social Service.
“Energy retailers must be put on notice that Victorians will no longer accept a cavalier approach to compliance with customer protections,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.
“The latest report on energy retailers’ compliance from the Essential Services Commission shows there was an alarming rise in the number of wrongful disconnections, which accounted for 1022 of the 1274 serious breaches reported.”
“The report also found that a large proportion of wrongful disconnections reported in 2013-14 were due to breaches of the Retail Code specifically designed to protect customers facing payment difficulty.”
“The ESC report also warns that some retailers appear to accept that a certain number of wrongful disconnections are unavoidable and an inevitable part of how the system works.”
“Energy retailers have obligations to ensure Victorians who face energy hardship or payment difficulties are connected up with genuine hardship programs and not wrongfully disconnected from their supply.”
“Yet too many retailers are ignoring these obligations in their endless pursuit of profit.”
“This cavalier approach is yet more evidence of the serious failings of the retail energy industry to comply with their obligations to provide an essential service to Victorians. It demonstrates the urgency of the review of energy retailer hardship programs ordered by the Andrews Government and now being conducted by the Essential Services Commission.”
“Victorians need stronger protections and a more powerful compliance framework that gives the Essential Services Commission the capacity to hit retailers hard when they commit serious breaches of those protections.”