A guide to the customer. electricity retailers. For domestic and small business gas and electricity customers

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1 A guide to the customer charters of gas and electricity retailers For domestic and small business gas and electricity customers

2 a guide to Your retailer s customer charter Helping you to understand your gas and electricity contract As a gas and/or electricity customer, you will have a contract with your gas and/or electricity retailer. The terms and conditions of a gas and/or electricity contract can vary from one retailer to the next. However, the key terms and conditions of your contract are based on the regulations which govern the relationship between energy retailers and their customers. What is a customer charter? Your gas and electricity retailer s customer charter is a summary of the key terms and conditions of your contract with the retailer. It is for information purposes only and is not legally binding. The Essential Services Commission (which is the organisation that regulates gas and electricity retailers) has published this brochure to help you understand your gas and electricity contract by guiding you through your retailer s customer charter. This brochure provides information about important areas relevant to your gas and/or electricity contract: receiving a copy of your customer charter how your gas and electricity is supplied getting connected disconnecting/reconnecting your gas or electricity supply moving house

3 billing property access pricing paying a security deposit ending your contract variation of terms and conditions your privacy making and resolving a complaint. This information may be included in your retailer s customer charter. If you cannot find it in your charter and you want to know more about your contract with your retailer, it would help to review all other material sent to you by your retailer and then contact them directly if you have any further questions. Receiving a copy of your customer charter Your retailer must provide you with a copy of their customer charter as soon as they arrange to connect gas or electricity to your premises. If you do not have a copy, you can ask your retailer to send you one. You can also request a copy in large print or ask for help understanding the charter if English is not your first language.

4 your gas and electricity supply How your gas and electricity is supplied You might be interested to know how your gas and electricity is supplied to your home or business. A distribution company delivers the gas and electricity to your premises, through the pipes, poles and wires outside your property. Your premises is serviced by a gas distributor and an electricity distributor. In some instances, this may be the same company. A retail company is the one that you have chosen to buy your gas and/or electricity from. This company must provide you with a copy of its customer charter. Your retailer can also provide you with the contact details of your distribution company, at your request. Getting connected When you connected gas and/or electricity at your current address, you may have been asked to provide certain information to your retailer, including acceptable identification and contact details. Your retailer has the right to ask for this information so they can create an account in your name and send bills to your address. Your retailer s customer charter may outline what personal information can be collected from you. It may also state that this information will be kept confidential and can only be used in line with the relevant privacy laws. You may be asked to tell your retailer as soon as possible of any relevant changes to your personal information (for example, if you change address). If you are renting, you may be asked to provide contact details of the property owner or real estate agent.

5 Disconnecting your gas or electricity supply You can request to have your gas or electricity supply disconnected and your retailer s customer charter may outline how this can be done. For details of how much you will be expected to pay, please refer to your contract or ask your retailer. Your retailer may also arrange to disconnect you for certain reasons (for example, if you do not pay your bill). These reasons may be detailed in the customer charter, as well as the regulatory obligations the retailer must comply with before they can disconnect a customer. Your retailer s customer charter may also provide you with information about what happens when there is a dispute between you and your retailer about disconnection and/or reconnection of your gas and/or electricity supply. If you and your retailer are not able to resolve the dispute to your satisfaction, you have the right to refer your complaint to the Energy and Water Ombudsman, Victoria. Reconnecting your gas or electricity supply Your retailer must reconnect your gas and/or electricity supply if the reason you have been disconnected is resolved within 10 business days. Your retailer s customer charter may outline the reconnection process and whether there will be a cost to you. For details of how much you will be expected to pay please refer to your contract, the information on fees and charges provided with your contract or ring your retailer.

6 Moving house Your retailer s customer charter may include information about what to do if you are moving house and need a final bill for your gas and/or electricity. This may include information about when you need to contact them and what you need to tell them.

7 billing Property access Your retailer s customer charter may outline your obligation to make sure that the gas and/or electricity meter on your property can be safely, easily and conveniently accessed. This is so your retailer can arrange to have your meter read for billing, and can also arrange to connect, disconnect or reconnect your gas and/or electricity supply, as required. The charter may confirm that the retailer s or distributor s representative wishing to access your meter must carry official identification at all times and that you may ask to see this. Pricing Your retailer s customer charter may provide you with general price-related information, such as: the circumstances in which your retailer can change the price you pay for gas and/or electricity how and when you will be notified of price changes if you can change to a different price structure, and the process for doing this. For specific information about your retailer s prices for gas and/or electricity, please refer to your contract or ring your retailer. Billing cycles Your retailer s customer charter may explain how often you will receive a bill and if you, or your retailer, can change this billing period.

8 The contents of your bill Your bill must include the following information: the billing period the price paid for gas and electricity the amount owed and due date payment options retailer contact details. Paying your bill Your retailer s customer charter may explain the ways you can pay your bill. Look carefully at this section, as it may provide information on payment options that you were unaware of, such as paying by instalments. Please refer to your contract, or ring your retailer, if payment option information is not included in the customer charter. Having difficulty in paying your bill? Your retailer will explain to you that it is your responsibility to pay your bill on time. However, if you cannot pay on time, please call your retailer immediately. Your retailer s customer charter may include information about how your retailer can help if you are experiencing financial hardship and finding it hard to pay your bill. Look out for information on hardship programs and payment plans. If you cannot find this information, ring your retailer and ask.

9 Managing your energy use Your retailer may explain ways they can help you to manage your energy use. All retailers are required to provide energy consumption graphs on customer bills, and electricity retailers must show greenhouse gas emissions as well. Your retailer s customer charter may also tell you how you can get information on your past energy consumption free of charge, and when you may have to pay for this information. Overcharged or undercharged on your bill? Your retailer s customer charter may explain what happens when your retailer overcharges or undercharges you for your gas or electricity consumption. If you believe you have been overcharged or undercharged, the charter may detail what happens in each circumstance and how you can have your account reviewed. If this information is not clear, please ring your retailer for further explanation.

10 other contractual arrangements Paying a security deposit Your retailer may sometimes require you to pay a portion of your bill in advance. Their customer charter may explain the circumstances in which this may be required. For details about how much you will be expected to pay, please refer to your contract, the information on fees and charges provided with your contract or ring your retailer. Ending your contract You have the right to end your energy contract with your retailer. Your retailer s customer charter may provide information about what you must do if you wish to end your contract, how much notice you must give to your retailer, and if charges will apply. For details of how much you will be expected to pay, please refer to your contract, the information on fees and charges provided with your contract or ring your retailer. Variation of terms and conditions You or your retailer may wish to change the terms or conditions of your gas or electricity contract. If this is possible, your contract must outline how you and your retailer reach agreement on the variations. This may also be outlined in your retailer s customer charter. Your privacy Your retailer s customer charter may state that your retailer will keep the personal information you supply confidential and will only use your personal information in line with relevant privacy laws.

11 Complaints Making and resolving a complaint Your retailer s customer charter may include information about its complaint handling process. It may cover: how to lodge a complaint with your retailer the steps your retailer will take to review the matter and respond to you what to do if you cannot resolve the matter with your retailer how and when to contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman, Victoria.

12 Your energy retailer s customer charter All retail energy companies in Victoria are required to provide their customers with a customer charter. The charter should explain the important terms and conditions of your contract with them. This brochure is a quick guide to what you can expect to find in your energy retailer s customer charter. For more information 1 Contact your energy retailer. 2 Call the Essential Services Commission customer information line on Visit the Essential Services Commission website at Level 2, 35 Spring Street, Melbourne 3000, Australia Telephone Facsimile

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