It's a deliberate ploy to cut out the middle men trying to negotiate better deals on behalf of struggling consumers.
Father of four, Peter Davies would dearly love to switch electricity providers, but he's trapped. Because he didn't receive an electricity bill for eleven months when he joined Origin, he's now built up arrears of $3000.
“I don't seem to be making any leeway at all with this, and my payment’s roughly $150 a fortnight,” Davies said.More stories from Today Tonight
Power price pain is chronic for some customers and energy Ombudsmen across the country report thousands are being put on blacklists which effect their credit ratings over debts as low as $100.
At a time when household bills have increased by up to 60 per cent over the past three years, following the carbon tax introduction, it appears we can expect rises of up to 21 per cent.
Choice's Matt Levey says consumers are victims. We're using less energy now but paying for companies to increase capacity.
“We have a broken electricity system in Australia. The electricity retailers sit at the very end of a long supply chain. The costs in that supply chain have been increasing massively in a short space of time,” Levey said.
“There are incentives at the moment for the companies to build their networks bigger and bigger, make more profits, and charge that back to households, and we think that needs to be changed.”
Struggling young mum Melanie Beckwith is at her wits end with energy bills she just can't afford.
“I would basically have to work the entire month, not eat, not pay any other bills, and do nothing to pay that one bill,” Beckwith said.
No wonder there's a power fightback. Tens of thousands of Australians are well and truly declaring bill warfare and banding together to group buy energy and get a better deal.
Today Tonight's got behind the One Big Switch campaign from the start - to help force companies to lower prices by at least twelve per cent.
“Group switching can be a really good way to get a better deal, you just need to make sure it's the best deal for your circumstances,” Levey said.
His advice is not to ‘panic switch’. To look beyond the hype - as energy contacts can be loaded with tricks and traps. And to first contact your current energy provider and see what discounts they can give.
And if you're having difficulty paying “certainly talk to your retailer about payment plans, about hardship programs that may be able to assist you. If you think you are being unfairly treated contact the energy Ombudsman in your state,” Levey said.Contact details
- One Big Switch - www.onebigswitch.com.au
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