We rate the best retailers for pricing, customer service and environmental sustainability over the past 12 months.
Tweeted a link to it and shared the SE Qld infographic. Notably Origin while mentioned for good customer service was in none of the lists of best providers.
Shame there wasn’t enough responses for Diamond Energy. Have been using them for a few years now and they are great. (I’m in SE Qld).
Thanks Brendan. However a new problem.
I have noticed with huge dismay that in the last few days of mid-July South Australia has quietly removed time of day pricing for all new retail accounts. Note that there is only one wholesaler - SA Power Networks - and I suspect we are seeing government mandated monopoly price gouging that the ACCC could/should be interested in.
We were just in the process of reviewing our existing supplier’s charges against the market when the time of day plans started to be withdrawn. There are now none.
Based on my Apr-Jul quarter consumption my power bill will increase by $700 annually (or 42%) for the best of the new plans. Clearly, we will stay on our current Simply Energy contract for as long as we can make it last.
Is there anything Choice can do to help nip this in the bud? South Australia will be very grateful.
Thanks for the information @Baycreek, I’ve passed this on to our campaigns team for consideration. Further comments as the situation develops are welcome.
How can you recommend AGL when they are the single biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the country? They are responsible for 8% of Australia’s emissions because of their dirty coal power stations. Why isn’t that a factor in your recommendations? Come on Choice - you can do better.
Hi @Bazzam, welcome to the community.
As indicated in the Choice article
AGL is now carbon neutral according to the Climate Active website run by the government.
Based on this and also looking at financially what is in the best interests of the electricity consumer, Choice is right in recommending AGL where its carbon neutral offerings are competitive…even if one is concerned about contributions of carbon dioxide to climate change.
If you disagree that AGL is carbon neutral, then using an evidence based approach, it is possibly something to raise with Climate Active.
I have moved your post into the topic that links to the reviews of providers (Current for 2021). The link at the top redirects to the latest information just in case anyone is confused by date in the post.
Thank you for your response and as @phb points out CHOICE used information from the Govt’s standard called Climate Active (and is the business behind the certification). I have included the section from the review about this area:
“Some energy retailers are investing into their carbon neutral activities – when we first did a Best Electricity Retailer last year, only Power Shop and Energy Australia were registered as climate neutral under the government standard known as Climate Active. Now AGL, Origin, Powerdirect (by sourcing the Climate Active product from AGL), ReAmped and Simply Energy have joined those ranks.”
So they may still produce carbon emissions but they are offsetting any of these by various means. Of course It doesn’t mean they are producing any or only Green Energy which is a cleaner way of producing energy rather than offsetting, but offsetting currently may be a way to minimise the effects until renewables completely make obsolete non renewable production. Offsets also do not always take into account fugitive emissions that arise from mining nor does it often offset the transportation emissions of transporting the fuel.
Whom might you choose as the best retailer and how do they generate their power, do they also offset, are they completely Green Power. I’m not making it a challenge, I sincerely ask your opinion as it may help others make better choices.
Updated Review link (Last updated: 26 April 2021 so please do not be confused by the 2020 heading)
While I agree that Oz must take GHG reduction more seriously and get on with doing it quickly it isn’t practical to just turn off all the old coal fired power stations and short of doing that I don’t see how AGL and other owners of such stations are going to reduce their emissions any quicker. I don’t work for AGL or like them very much but they are building new renewable energy sources and they do have plans to close coal fired stations. Unlike the present government AGL has no plans to build new coal fired power. The industry runs on replacement cycles of 30-50 years not months or years.
Of the three main areas of responsibility in the energy market; federal government, private industry and consumers, only the last two are doing anything much about the problem and you have to think that they would be doing more if there was any leadership from the first.
After a bad experience with AGL a decade ago when they declined to honour their own offer to me on a renewal, I walked and swore never to return as their customer. Yet I got tempted to try them for gas this year. A few months later the Victoria comparison tool showed me Momentum would be more than $300 p.a. less after Momentum reduced their prices mid-year and AGL did not.
From Choice, Savvy consumers treat utilities such as electricity and gas as something you switch as often as possible to make sure you’re always getting the best price. yet when they drag their feet it can all be for nought.
I pressed the button to move to Momentum and received their welcome packet on 12 April. The change over should have happened on the next meter read (7 May) but did not. It is possible AGL require some minimum time prior to a meter read but I am unable to find any such caveat. Contacting AGL, their records showed my account will be transferred on yet ‘the next meter read’ that is now 2 more months hence, costing me >>$60 through my inability to obtain the savings I should already be receiving because of the delay.
Although this is a gas rant on an electricity topic it remains the same AGL with the same systems, so anyone so enticed might best have a think … there are many online reviews about AGL yet Choice apparently discounts the customer experience to recommend them, or perhaps those who answered the Choice survey were mostly very happy?
I went to AGL eyes wide open and got what I deserved
Edit: a day later I have an email notice of my final AGL bill… The timing could reflect my discussion with an admittedly nice and helpful agent who was able to assist after we ‘hung up’, or just reflects their systems are not crisp and it was coincidental timing.
I hope there is no more to my story.
Thanks for the welcome. As you suggested I raised this with Climate Active and received their reply (below) which confirms that AGL is not in fact certified carbon neutral, other than for their opt-in program. As I mentioned, they cannot be, since they produce very little renewable energy compared to their coal-based and gas energy products. Given the information from Climate Active, I really think you should re-visit your advice about AGL. They are Australia’s worst polluter by far.
(reply from Climate Active)
Thank you for your enquiry.
We are always keen to hear from our stakeholders and the public about their thoughts on businesses who are going through the process of working towards better climate action.
The company AGL is not certified as a carbon neutral organisation with Climate Active, but two of their products are certified:
opt-in gas supplied to AGL customers, and
opt-in electricity for residential, small business and commercial and industrial AGL customers.
To achieve this certification, AGL has gone through the same rigorous process we require of all our Members seeking a carbon neutral claim through Climate Active. The Standard which underpins Climate Active certification is based on international standards tailored to Australia. It is reviewed and improved regularly to ensure its integrity and that it remains aligned with best practice.
While we won’t speak on behalf of AGL, they have publically committed to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, and we are pleased they are taking steps to measure and reduce their emissions – including seeking certification through Climate Active for their electricity and gas products.
Last week we saw a media report in which AGL reported a significant uptake of customers looking for carbon neutral options, with more than 50,000 services now on AGL’s certified carbon neutral electricity and gas products. It is very clear the demand is there from consumers for more sustainable products, with many choosing the opt-in option to offset their own carbon footprint. AGL is taking steps to meet this demand.
Further information, as well as the public disclosure statements about AGL’s certified products, is available from our website: https://www.climateactive.org.au/buy-climate-active/certified-members/agl
Jennifer on behalf of the Climate Active Team
No wonder Origin come in 3rd last on Choices ranking of energy providers.
I started with Origin in February. Origin sent my first electricity bill in April. It was an “estimate” and they said it was based on previous readings. Since I had never been a customer of theirs before, this was very odd. Also I no one had been in the house for those first 2 months of the contract, so no electricity was used. So the estimate was way out.
I then discovered that they hadn’t read the meter when I moved in, so their bill was based on a guess of the starting number plus a guess of what they thought it might be after 2 months of use. In other words a complete nonsense.
They first told me they had been unable to read the meter because there was a dog on the property. I have no dog.
I requested a proper reading. Their rep, Dominika told me they’d they would send someone to read the meter a week later and they’d get back in touch with me. Two weeks passed and nothing. When I contacted her again, she told me they’d sent someone, and the actual reading was higher than their estimate. A complete lie. (no number was given - they just told me it was higher than their original estimate and did I want a higher bill or go with the original estimate?)
I wasn’t at the house, but got a friend to read the meter. When I pointed out to Origin that the actual number we could see on the meter was way below both what they claimed it was at the start of the contract, and their usage estimate, they revised their guess of the contract starting number to another made up figure well below the actual current number so they could charge me for usage. Just ridiculous!
After many hours of hassle, their complaints department admitted they had no idea what the meter reading was, either at the start of the contract or at the time of the first bill. They had just made the whole lot up. They agreed to only charge me for the connection and no usage.
Understandably, I immediately cancelled my contract with them. They waived the disconnection fee in light of the way they had acted. Am I satisfied - no way!! Origin are shocking liars.
The rules energy retailers are required to operate under regarding meter readings are set by the energy authority, not them. That is AEMC.
You are perfectly within your rights to dispute your bill based on an estimated meter reading, and you can tell them what the actual reading is.
And they basically have to accept that and send a revised bill free of charge, or advise you in writing why they dispute the reading you have provided.
That of course means they have to actually show up to do an actual meter reading.
Thanks for your insights. So, you’re telling me that the AEMC requires that electricity providers guess what the reading might be at the start of the contract and then guess how much electricity might have been used thereafter? As such, they should just make up a number for the amount actually owed.
When I finally got Origin to read the meter, their representative tried to scare me into paying the original bill. I discovered later that the reading was actually not only lower than their estimate for the bill, it was lower than the “estimated reading” that they put for the start of the contract. Let me just make that clear. The actual reading was less than the figure they claimed was the reading at the start of the contract, and they knew it, but the representative told me:
“I have checked and I can see that we had an actual reading coming through. Would you like me to adjust the bill accordingly to that reading? Just wanted to also let you know, that the actual reading we had this time is higher than the estimated reading.”
This was a shameful and unconscionable lie! The company later admitted that they had no idea what was owed, because they didn’t read the meter at the start of the contract and they didn’t read it before they sent the bill.
What’s more, when negotiating with their complaints department, the rep said he’d have to revise the figure for the initial reading at the start of the contract. He made up a number lower than the true current reading and told me that the amount owed would be about the same. That is until I pointed out that he’d just invented a new starting figure. Then he capitulated and said they wouldn’t charge me any usage fees.
And you’re telling me that they are required to do this by the AEMC?
This is the information on the AEMO website…
In relation to reading the meter when moving, this should have been a special request made by those involved in the property transaction. It can be the buyer or seller. One shouldn’t assume the other party will organise it as it is often forgotten. When the request is made, the meter should be organised to be read as close to settlement as possible. When read, the reading ‘draws a line in the sand’ in relation to who is responsible for usage (the seller before meter is read and the buyer thereafter).
Establishing a new account, which occurs at the time when one purchases a property doesn’t automatically result in or trigger a meter reading. This is because a new account could be someone changing electricity retailer, without the home ownership changing. A electricity retailer does not know a property has changed owners - they don’t have access to this information. That is why it is the responsibility of the seller/buyer to request a special meter reading.
Some retailers, including Origin, have special teams which deal with moving/properties. These teams organise special meter reading for old and new properties and transfer of accounts from old to new. This possibly is about retaining customers as much as helping their customers. But, one needs to directly engage these teams as it again isn’t an automatic process.
If someone is changing retailers, but ownership is the same, the bills are estimated for the time the account closes and new one opens. The usage is then corrected at the next meter reading used for billing. It appears that this is the process which has been followed if a special meter read on settlement was not carried out. As a special read was not carried out, the new retailer assumes a continuation of usage and historical usage is used for estimating usage when account was opened. Unfortunately you may have to wear the estimate at settlement if you didn’t request a special meter read. I just hope for you financialy the previous owners weren’t heavy users, and used significantly more than your household.
If you made a request for a special meter reading for settlement and this was not organised by Origin (say an oversight by Origin), you may be able to negotiate a reasonable usage estimate from settlement to the first bill/meter reading. It might also be possible to negotiate usage waiver if Origin failed (negligent) to read the meter when a special and specific request was made for settlement.
That makes no sense at all.
The ownership of the property is completely irrelevant. As was the case with me, the previous tenants moved out, ended their electricity contract and paid their final bill. There’s you line in the sand.
Now, I move in, begin a contract with Origin. They have to know what the meter says when that contract begins. No options, no exceptions. If they don’t know what the meter says at the start of the contract, they will never be able to issue an accurate bill. How am I supposed to know that I have to request a “special reading” so they can have this vital information? It should be standard procedure, surely!
Origin didn’t do this. Subsequently they invented numbers and amounts owed. Sure, they admitted this was wrong of them later, but the practice continues. And that practice is not bothering to get basic information, and lying and bluffing their way into charging whatever they want. A figure plucked out of their backsides!
It’s absurd, dishonest, and probably illegal business practice!
The same principles apply to change in occupiers. A specific request is required by the new occupier for the day they move in.
As indicated above, a electricity retailer won’t know a new occupier is now responsible for electricity usage at the property, and why some retailers have teams to assist their customers when they move. Again, one needs to contact the team when moving. It isn’t the retailer’s fault if a special meter read wasn’t request and they weren’t advised of new occupiers being responsible for the usage (through property purchase or move).
Your tenants bill may have been based on an estimate, if a meter reading wasn’t requested by them either. If it was and a final meter reading was taken, the metering company would have thus information and attached it to the NMI data for the meter, for Origin to use for your account commencement. If you had also organised a meter read, along with the tenants, the metering company would have advised that a meter reading had already been organised by the previous occupiers as reading the meter twice at the same time doesn’t add any value. My understanding is the person who firsts requests a meter reading pays for the reading.
Not having a final meter reading creates challenges as estimates will be used to try and determine usage at the time when a final reading should have been undertaken.
From this comment it appears that a final/special meter reading wasn’t requested.
In relation to knowing to organise such, information appears on the Origin website and also part of standard checklists (even Origin has a checklist on their website to assist their customers) when moving homes, like changing rego and licence details, enrolment, to vote details, insurances etc etc. A electricity retailer isn’t responsible for customers failing to make such request. Likewise Transport Departments if rego or licence details aren’t updated or the AEC because enrolment details weren’t updated. Moving home does require some effort to ensure one’s personal information with organisations they deal with are updated to reflect the move.
One should advise their retailer they use before the move and after the move to ensure final readings of the meter occurs at both places of residence. There are also minimum timeframes to organise a special meter reading. Origin indicates…
Your distributor will come out to do a final meter read, which requires 3-4 business days’ notice.
Origin will not organise such a meter reading unless they are formally advised…the Origin moving team will assist and provide support to a customer (we have used this team and were referred to them when we explained to Origin call centre the circumstances of why we were closing our account with them. The process was smooth and uneventful. They did apologise for not being able to read on the exact day required, as the metering company could only read the next day. The 24 hour delay was inconsequential to us).
As also indicated, if there was a continuation of the occupier, but a change in retailer, the meter at change of occupier is estimated. At the next meter read, the bill is adjusted and the estimation is corrected if it is an over-estimate or under-estimate (with exception of differences in plans between the two retailers).
They will do it when requested and have teams to assist customers when they know a move is occurring.
See my previous post to why estimates are done when changing retailers. If Origin doesn’t know it isn’t a change in retailers but a new person responsible for usage (through a move/purchase), they will assume it is a change in retailer which occurs often.
Edit: I should have also said that there will be a fee for s special meter read. These charges are set by the metering company and will be payable by one who asks for a meter read. I anticipate that some may chose not to ask for a meter read as the cost of the meter read may be more than the estimated bill. The risks of this is that unless a final meter reading is carried out, the account prior to the change in retailer may remain open (hasn’t been closed).
If this discussion on Origin continues, perhaps it should be confined to one or the other topic the issue was posted in? From the other…