Chairperson Ron Ben-David says the commission is proposing a fundamental shift in how energy retailers will be required to engage with their customers.
“There is now overwhelming evidence that the retail energy market is not delivering good outcomes for customers,” said Dr Ben-David.
Dr Ben-David says energy retailers must be held responsible for restoring consumer confidence and trust in the market.
“Our draft decision isn’t just about providing more information to customers, in reality we’re making retailers take responsibility for what happens to their customers,” he said.
“Today, we’re moving beyond simple tick-the-box regulation and implementing a new responsibility based model. It will now be up to retailers to show they can earn the community’s confidence and trust,” he said.
The proposed changes would require retailers to:
communicate a ‘best offer’ to each customers at least twice a year – to ensure customers know if they’re on the right deal for them
provide advance notice of any changes to prices, discounts or benefits so customers get ‘no more surprises’
honour a new customer entitlement to provide customers with clear advice to help them find the contract that best suit them.
“Customers are finding the market unhelpful and extremely confusing.
They find that when they get themselves onto a contract there are all sorts of things buried in the fine print. They find that they sign up expecting one price but before long they’re paying another price. And all of these things have led to the customers losing their confidence that the market is actually there to serve their interests.”
Ron Ben-David: ‘Retailer best offer’ proposal
“Those bills will have a box – prominently displayed; it won’t be down in the fine print, it will be up at the top where everyone can see it – that will tell the customer how much money they could save if they switched to the retailer’s best offer.”
Ron Ben-David: Fairness for customers in the retail energy market
“At a minimum, it means that when you sign up to a contract, you know what you are going to get. And you know what you are going to get for the term of that contract. No surprises, no weasel words, no fine print that means the retailer can do something that you didn’t expect.
So I think, at a minimum, fairness means that what you think you’re going to get is in fact what you are going to get.”