Victorian energy retailers are able to vary their customers’ electricity tariff provided retailers give customers correct notification. This is even the case with a fixed term electricity contract, i.e. where the customer has signed up for 12/24/36 months.
That means consumers can spend time shopping around to find the best value deal and sign a contract but then find that the retailer can notify them straight away that it intends to increase the tariff. Good deals can quickly turn into expensive deals and, because the customers have signed a fixed term contract, they are likely to face an exit fee if they wish to change retailers. A recent survey of 507 Victorians by a commercial provider on behalf of the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (CUAC) showed that an overwhelming majority thought this was unfair (86 per cent) and supported changing the regulations to prevent it (94 per cent).
Consumer Action and CUAC are seeking a change to the National Energy Retail Rules to prevent energy retailers from unilaterally varying contract terms under fixed term contracts. More specifically, the rule change will seek to stop retailers from increasing the tariff during the term of a contract. We anticipate that the proposed rule change will be submitted toward the end of 2013.