We audited retailer’s websites to ensure they were providing information about their customer’s entitlements to assistance.
Payment difficulty framework audit 2019
In 2017, we reviewed the Energy Retail Code and made changes that better protect residential customers anticipating or facing payment difficulty.
In February 2019, we audited retailers’ websites to ensure they included information for customer’s on their entitlements to assistance, including:
- their financial hardship policy
- the kinds of assistance that is available to customers who are experiencing payment difficulty
- how customers can their lower energy costs
- government and non-government assistance that may be available to help customers meet their energy costs.
What we audited
We checked retailers’ websites to ensure they included information for customer’s on their entitlements to assistance.
Key audit finding
Retailers weren’t providing accessible information on how they can help customers facing payment difficulty
The most common item missing from retailers’ websites was information about the kinds of assistance available to customers who are facing payment difficulty. Often this information was only included in their hardship policies.
As information to help customers in payment difficulty should be easily accessible, we didn’t feel that only having this information in a hardship policy was appropriate.
In cases where we found retailers were missing information, we wrote to them seeking they provide accessible information on how they can help customers facing payment difficulty. We asked that websites include:
- the assistance available to avoid getting into arrears
- the flexible and practicable ways customers can pay their on-going energy use, repay their arrears and lower their energy costs.
All the retailers we wrote to made changes to their websites. Information about customer’s entitlements to assistance is now easily available on their retailer websites.