CHOICE membership

Electricity retailers refusing signing you to plan chosen from Energy made Easy

Hello,

I am having problems with electricity retailers declining my request to sign up for plans I have chosen via Energy Made Easy, the Federal Government comparison sites.

I have a smart meter and the reasons given vary from “The distributor doesn’t allow that plan”, or “the meter is not configured for the plan”, or variations on these. And that they were not confident the distributor would reconfigure my meter, to make the plan available to me.

I contacted the distributor, and they flatly denied the have anything to do with this.

I had to go to my NSW State MP, who after finding out confirmed that the distributor is correct.

My previous retailer in fact, told me they couldn’t change my existing plan, a single rate one, to time of use, because my meter was configured to single rate.

Essentially a smart meter transmits usage for 30-minute periods to the retailer, who applies billing software and send you the invoice. As such why would such a meter need “to be configured”?

The retailer said that the distributor wasn’t answering their request, after 10 days since I put my request to the retailer. I asked the for a reference number for their request, or a copy of the correspondence to the distributor. Total silence for another week, so I contacted the Ombudsman. Miraculously, I had the new plan up and running the next day.

I had to rush to another retailer, which I might change in the coming weeks. It was chosen by a comparison site. This site, instead of sending me a quote, put a link to Energy Made Easy. However, the plan details the retailer gave me are totally different (more expensive, of course). I have written to both, and am waiting for a response.

A further issue, is that one retailer advised me that my meter was configured for “Demand Charge”, which I never asked for. I don’t know if it’s mandatory or not, since I haven’t yet received a response from the “Meter Management Company” (Yes, there are many players in the church of private enterprise). In theory such plans allow you lower rates, but “punish” you is you dramatically exceed “your normal” use, during a given time of the day. It could happen if you have a large party, with jumping castles and rented catering equipment, and so on. I reality the rates are higher than that of “normal” plans.

Demand Charge is very new to domestic users, but widely used in industry. As there are fewer new houses than established ones, which are not forced to get a smart meter, unless it breaks, or the owner wants solar feed in, time of use, or other features.

The numbers I checked suggest that smart meter users are disadvantaged, because they allow the retailer show “credible” excuses for not offering you the cheapest plan.

I would like to know if anybody else has had this problem, as well as any insight from anyone with experience in smart metering.

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