CHOICE membership

An invitation from CHOICE to escape the great electricity ‘confusopoly’


#1

Australians are paying too much for our electricity because of price gouging by energy retailers.

Switching to a better energy deal can be so confusing that consumers are often talked into dud deals by comparison services who earn sales commissions from energy companies.

So CHOICE is trying something new, and we’re inviting you to try it first.

Here’s the deal:

  • We scan the entire energy market – every offer from every retailer.
  • You sign up to our service and send us your bill
  • We find you the best offer
  • If we can save you a lot of money, we switch you and charge you a fee

Why do we charge a fee?
So that we can support the service. We’re a non-profit so the fee will be as low as possible, and we only charge if we’ve saved you substantially more. Our initial tests indicate we can save most consumers hundreds of dollars a year.

Why are the others free?
Because they work for commissions from the big electricity retailers. Unfortunately this means that they miss most of the best deals, which tend to come from retailers that don’t pay commission.

We work for you.
As Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, we’re in this for you.

We’re starting with a trial, and you’re invited.
We want to recruit 100 brave people to try out this service while it’s still in development. We’re going to be figuring out how much we should charge, which of the cheapest retailers has acceptable customer service, whether we can sustain this idea at a large scale – all kinds of things. It’s going to be rocky, but exciting.

If you would like to take part in the trial please register before 27 February 2017 at www.powerup.community.

Only 100 participants can be accommodated in the initial trial and we need a mix of people from NSW, VIC, SA and SE QLD.

Thank you in advance,

The Powerup team.


Help with Powershop
Energy bill comparison sites
#4

I’m not in the market myself, having been off-grid since 1991, but this looks like a great initiative. As mentioned above, those commision-based comparison services are unlikely to find you the very best deal, as all the potential electricity providers are not starting on a level playing field.
One question, are you trialling for consumers only of electricity, or also including producers with PV systems on their roof? I believe that many electricity providers attempt to add various other charges if you have solar, be it in the form of a direct fee for metering or similar, or by not offering as low a rate per kWh.


#5

great question, thanks Gordon, I’ll try to provide more clarity about this on the Powerup website as we move into the next trial .

We will definitely be looking at customers who have PV systems installed. In fact with the wind up of feed in subsidies in NSW and VIC we thought these consumers who will experience bill shock this year will definitely be interested in getting the best power deal.

The software we are using scans all the available offers across the country (more than 8000 of them) and we are able to provide accurate estimates based on location and size of solar PV system then identify the best deal. We’d certainly encourage anyone with a solar PV system to sign up and see what savings we can achieve for them.


#6

Are we able to let friends and family know about it @pgiles? :slight_smile:


#7

Yes sure Tilly, we particularly want to broaden our experience beyond NSW so interstate applicants are especially welcome!


#8

@pgiles Everything “powerup” talks about electricity and nary a mention of gas. In my experiences the suppliers make their dollars one way or another and are reticent to sell just gas or just electricity to those using both, and that adds complexity far and above the games they play with just electricity.

In my case Red is not the cheapest for either electricity or gas based on my 12 months trailing actual use, but is on the low end for both combined when I do my annual surveys of the competitors.

Is this trial and then subscription product just for those requiring electricity as it appears, and if so will electricity+gas be added in future?


#9

@thebbg yes you’re right there incentives from some suppliers if you also include gas. Currently we only are looking at electricity supplies and have an extensive database of all the electricity offers. We have trialled services in NSW and our next trial prioritises extending our experience to VIC, QLD and SA electricity customers. Gas is something we will look at incorporating further down the line.


#10

hi @pgiles

We have PV panels and as far as I know will continue to receive the 50c/kWh feed in tariff (SE Qld). Apart from cheaper electricity prices, will your Powerup website allow me to filter out providers that do not/would not pay that tariff as I want maximum bang for buck?

I don’t know whether this is possible, but would it let me search out providers who pay for all produced electricity (as in the ACT) rather than only pay for the nett surplus (as in Qld)?


#11

hi @meltam, Yes I understand that some of the feed in tariff schemes are still operating in states other than NSW and we’d be very interested to see if we can find you a substantial saving on your power bill. This is a trial so we are interested in looking at as many different power requirements as possible, I’d encourage you to register.

Peter


#12

@thebbg I’ve had a conversation with our partners who are managing the software we are using that monitors all the deals across the country. They are currently expanding the system to include gas offers so we are on track to add these Powerup after this trial.


#13

I would like the fee explained up front on the “Register your Interest” page. By that I mean is it a percentage of the savings? If so what % If a flat fee how much is that flat fee? Currently it just says an annual subscription fee. I know that fee could change due to inflation or other costs but putting an actual figure on it with a note that it could change in future would be a better disclosure.


#14

@grahroll - we are currently finalising the fee structure for the trial. One thing we are trying to test is the perceived value of the service for consumers. After expressions of interest are in next week we will email out invitations to trial participants with the pricing structure included and a more extensive online form to gather more power consumption data.


#15

I understand thank you for the more detailed explanation. Currently the way the Registration page looks it seemed that a price structure had already been formed.

A further point is you say you can save at least $100 an energy bill, but most people are on quarterly bills and some others are on monthly bills due to either financial or consumption issues, perhaps indicating that this is quarterly savings or monthly savings would be helpful eg $100 savings on your quarterly bill. I did assume it was quarterly but others may not.


#16

As the teaser currently reads, it suggests Powerup might be taking charge of signing one up to a new supplier when a $100 saving (subject to the qualification @grahroll noted) is found. I would never want to lose control, but would want the “new plan” presented to me for approval to assure I am happy with the T&C.

Some issues include plans that require you to forecast use and prepay, some require direct debit and some are happy for you to pay however, and others could have all sorts of convoluted time of day demand rates, etc, etc. Some of us are happy to direct debit but would never prepay on our own forecasts no matter how much it might save, and time of day is as much an opportunity to do us as to save money. I can time my washing machine to run at 1 AM, but do I have time before leaving for work to put the clothes on the line, if that makes a point. For those where you need to forecast for the lowest rate and top-ups are more dear, it could only take one “slip up” to turn a saving into a loss, plan dependent. Then there is the customer service aspect where some suppliers have less than ordinary reputations and others are stellar.

Summary: It is more than just cost for some of us, but it might be all about just cost for others and that may be the target audience.


#17

Yes, to clarify we are looking for annual savings of $100 or more on power bills. We’ll clarify this on the website.


#18

cheers, thanks for your feedback. Yes Powerup is intended as a concierge service to take the confusion and hassle out of the process of switching energy providers. There is strong evidence that many people are paying too much as they are deterred from switching by the process - whether it’s pushy switching services or lack of transparency around tariff costs. So the target market is people who want us to do that work on their behalf. And we totally agree that this is not just about costs but about the reliability of electricity retailer and their customer service performance.


#19

I’d be really interested in this. My last power bill was $25.43 more than for the same period last year but I used less power. When your income is very limited and you make a really big effort to decrease your power use as I did this extra cost seems grossly unfair.


#20

OK registered.

A cosmetic thing: I’m assuming you are looking to for a ‘professional’ image on the site so I think the Bruce Petty cartoons detract from that image.

I don’t want to be too down, but in terms of a landing page it looks like click bait. I think you need much more information about what is on offer to actually get people to give you their contact details. In fact, I would allow people to see the search page

In terms of fee, to be attractive to me it would have to be a one-off fee, and that needs to be less than the value saved in say no more than 6 months.

You also need to make clear what “we automatically throw the switch” means and what is involved to get to this point.


#21

Can you do the same for gas as well, please?


#22

I’m with Diamond Energy. They were rated #2 just after Powershop by Greenpeace. Are you going to take account of other issues, such as environmental responsibility and care for customers?