Energy and water consumers secure $1.1M in compensation
QUEENSLAND energy and water consumers have this year secured a record amount of financial compensation after taking their complaints to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) according to the 2014-15 annual report.
The top five monetary outcomes negotiated by EWOQ were: 504 goodwill gestures ($115,171), 305 payment plans or extensions offered ($185,693), 243 billing adjustments ($403,883), 200 refund cheques ($231,033) and 95 debt waivers ($102,070).
"Throughout the year we again assisted thousands of customers with serious issues particularly in respect of their bills and their capacity to pay, resulting in a record $1.1 million in outcomes for customers," Energy and Water Ombudsman Forbes Smith said.
According to EWOQ, this year has been a remarkable one, with the record value of monetary outcomes being achieved from a smaller complaints base, with complaints to the Ombudsman falling by 21%.
"We believe that electricity retailers have improved the way in which they deal with customer complaints at the front line, which is a welcome development, as it is in a customer's best interest to have their complaint dealt with by the retailer from the beginning, rather than being forced to take up their issue with my office," Mr Smith said.
"As such, we believe that the Ombudsman scheme is being used for more difficult or complex cases, rather than simple complaints which retailers have been able to resolve themselves."
EWOQ closed 11,049 cases in the 2014-15 financial year, 9539 related to electricity, 803 related to gas and 569 related to water, with the remaining cases being general enquiries.
Electricity complaints decreased by 24%, however water and gas complaints experienced slight changes, with water complaints increasing by 7% and gas complaints decreasing by 5%.
"All complaint categories were down with one exception - customer service complaints increased by 8% as a result of complaints concerning one retailer's failure to pay solar bonus refunds."
"We continue to work hard to provide a high level of service to electricity, gas and water customers who experience difficulties with their energy and water supplier," Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said if Queenslanders experienced any issues with their electricity, gas or water supplier, that they should give their supplier the opportunity to resolve the problem first, but if they are not happy with the response, free assistance was available from EWOQ.
"Queensland electricity, gas and water customers can contact EWOQ for assistance by visiting www.energywatercomplaints.com.au or freecall 1800 662 837," he said.