CHOICE membership

Electricity Plans - Still Nightmare

As a Senior citizen I still feel that it is not easy to find the cheapest Electricity Plan. It is a nightmare to compare all the offers. When I went to the official website for price comparison, I found that it was quite inaccurate. All providers now have more than one deal and this was not reflected in the offers, e.g. AGL now has 3 offers. One has the cheapest unit prices, while the other two offer discount for payment-on-time. So far we had the payment-on-time option, but the cheapest unit prices might result in a better deal. However, as unit prices can be increased, it is difficult to know, where one stands. While the government promised to simplify the electricity pricing, I find that it has become more complicated.

11 Likes

Which website did you go to?

Most state governments have energy comparison websites as well as does the Commonwealth government.

Choice slso has teir transformer website which can one can join the wait list in the event that the service is reactivated again the future…

https://transformer.choice.com.au

2 Likes

We had a discount of 36 percent, but our plan will run out. I find it challenging to try to establish, whether the lowest unit prices or a discount would give us a better deal. However, it also depends on the usage. There is also the option of getting a discount of both the usage and supply charges. It is just too much to work it all out. The Energy comparison websites come up with a figure, but I still have to look at the individual deals, which sometimes have features, which do not suit us.

3 Likes

I agree completely, the introduction of retailers to sell power has been a totally and utterly failure once again by our politicians. The promises of competition and lower prices was instead massive duplication and higher prices and the inability to do a quick comparison.

In Queensland it was simple, we paid Energex and they maintained the network but we’ll were promised by Beattie that selling off Energex retail and introducing competition would see us save 10% immediately but we were hit with a ~20% increase instead.

Now we have to spend tens of hours each year comparing prices to try and minimise the shafting we are provided by the retailers.

The only solution is to revert back to a government owned retailer with one rate for all.

8 Likes

I feel the same way.

6 Likes

An interesting article on How privatisation pushed-up Australia’s electricity costs

The problem we have in Oz is that the concept of whether privatisation would work is poorly thought out, poorly planned, poorly legislated, competition is poorly supported, and the results poorly evaluated. What do we then expect to result? It’s certainly not going to be good is it?

4 Likes

Privatisation could make sense in an industry where multiple parties can each play their game, end-to-end. Airlines are an example where each has their own airplanes and pay negotiated fees to (monopolistic) airports as well (usually standard) fees to various (monopolistic) ATC facilities where they fly.

In contrast the faux competition for electricity is that there remain few generators (ignoring domestic solar), there are area-monopoly distribution companies, and our esteemed ‘competitors’ do nothing but work spread sheets, send bills, receive payments, and skim their part off the top for making an obfuscated and opaque game and advertising it. Have a problem? Unless it is a billing problem it is not theirs.

If each electricity ‘supplier’ had to have some non-trivial minimum capacity to play, it would start to resemble competition, although the distribution network (eg wires) are a natural monopoly. Sometimes I worry our governments’ faux competition mentality could lead to their replicating the miserable electricity market in the water market to put dollars into the right pockets. (I should not have written that, an MP might be reading!)

4 Likes

They already started down this path in Queensland by taking away water from the councils and into government owned corporations which saw an increase in prices, massive duplication of staff, additional bills and this has done nothing but increase prices. The former Lord Mayor of Brisbane gets something like $700,000 to be CEO on one of these new water companies which raises the question of why do they need a CEO on such a package when they have a captive market? It’s not like they need to go looking for business. A monkey could sit in the CEO seat and sign the occasional piece of paper.

Other issues are they are reducing help for water leaks which thanks to the massive increase in water prices means a small leak can add $10,000 to $20,000 to your bill. If you can’t prove with a report by a plumber that meets all their criteria you have to pay and if it’s an investment property or business they refuse to help. They now offer an additional insurance product to protect yourself against this which is absurd.

Our governments are beyond pathetic, all they do is increase prices, reduce services and line the pockets of companies they often end up taking board positions at in the future. I have no doubts they will sell these government owned corporations in the future, the management and security of water assets is bad enough under government ownership, imagine when it gets into private hands.

5 Likes

I did the Government comparison offer a few months ago, purely for the $50. They came up with a couple that were supposedly cheaper than my current provider but when you drill right down into them it became difficult to compare apples with apples. I use Simply Energy mainly because they do not have overseas call centres. I get 45% discount on Power usage, and 30% discount on gas. It is an RACV members offer but suspect anybody could obtain the same discounts by making a call. I live next door to my daughter, she uses Dodo so I did a comparison with her usage and they came out around the same price after the discount I receive from Simply Energy, which is quite good, only problem with Dodo is you cannot talk to a person, its internet based communications only.

1 Like

I agree, the situation is a parlous waste of community resources. If you added up the amount of time our community is wasting agonising over this, dealing with sellers at their door, and then a few months later the offers could have changed, while the online comparison tools fail to easily compare renewable energy, you have to wonder whose interest it is in. Any “savings” are quickly eaten up by the time wasted. Or you are being ripped off. There is an enormous opportunity cost not being accounted for. What would happen if we invested all this time (and money) on valuable, meaningful activities the community and environment really need? Instead of pestering our seniors about a better deal they could do with more practical help.

2 Likes

Never worry about the discount %, only consider the $ cost. The higher the discount the higher the base rate it is going to be computed off. A simple way to make a good judgement is to take the base rates offered and take away the discount, adjust against whether the discount is on usage and service or just on usage. Do that for each company of interest and you will get a fair enough comparison to make a judgement.

It can be more complicated for peak and off-peak plans since you need to do it for each period.

In my experience the majority of retailers are within a small band of costs but depending on the T&C one is willing to put up with (prepayments, direct debits, contracts, no customer service person, etc) there can be companies that will provide real savings worth taking up, as well as some that play games with discounts and how they are applied to get your ‘last’ dollar in their pocket.

When I went to solar for example, with all other things being similar (costs, billing, service humans) my current retailer that has no discounts and what you see is what you get charges 30% less per prime time and 5% less off time per kwh than my previous retailer where there was a 15% discount on usage and service, and the latter was $100’s cheaper p.a. than the RACV plan in my case (as deduced from a detailed spreadsheet analysis of my actual annual use and their billing methodology).

4 Likes

I agree. We are with Red Energy and we asked for a better deal. They just play around with the unit price, the solar rebate and the service to property and it is very difficult to confidently say whether they are offering a better deal. Very deceptive.

4 Likes

In Vic Red’s solar offer is not attractive and bordered on insulting, and even though a long standing customer they ‘could not’ make it better. I walked.

3 Likes

Voting with your feet…the only viable solution. I assume you managed to obtain a better deal elsewhere. Good for you.

3 Likes

Hi whbaird,
I dont think the issue here is a senior citizen issue.
Just by scrolling thru the ‘well meaning’ replies, its plain to see that it is impossible to determine.
It all…
“based on” this, and “depends on” that.
Its all complete rubbish, and frankly, like Health Funds, Insurance Policies, it’s all cleverly designed to make choices impossible to quantify, unless you are a smart-ass who gets paid to sit around all day dreaming up ever more snags and hitches in their fine print.
There are huge profits to be made in trickery, but its really ‘theft by stealth’, which is not illegal.
You are not alone.

5 Likes

The only reason I use Red Energy is that it is Australian and does not have an overseas call centre.

In my recent contacts with Origin and AGL re solar PV billing I have been connected through to an Australian service centre.

Perhaps it varies between retailer and service needs? It would be an interesting project for someone in the Choice team to size up each major utility/service provider and provide a score card for Choice members only information?

2 Likes

It looks like a new player is about to enter the market,
“The company (Korea-based $40 billion Hanwha Group) has teamed up with UK tech outfit Octopus Energy on a retail energy platform that is says will target markets transitioning away from fossil fuels; decentralising energy supply; and cutting consumer costs with dynamic pricing, EVs and battery storage.”

Who knows whether or not it will result in lower pricing for the consumer

3 Likes

I have had the same deal for years with my provider. Recently they phoned me to offer me a deal they claimed would be cheaper for me. I checked it out on line and found it was only a few dollars cheaper per annum and only if they retained the deal with RAA. So I didn’t change. I haven’t found a cheaper deal on the government website and I’m happy with the current deal I have. However, I do check sometimes and have found errors on the government website, with a couple of cheap deals appearing in the section for those without a smart meter which actually required one.

3 Likes

Absolutely 100% agree!