Complaint handling guide
Before you contact your energy or water retailer or distributor, read our tips. We have outlined some key things to make your experience less stressful and more productive.
Take your time to understand the issue, to consider what you are seeking as a resolution and to learn your rights. It will be easier for you to express yourself clearly.
If your attempt to resolve your dispute with the retailer or distributor fails please contact us.
Each retailer or distributor must have their own internal complaint handling and dispute resolution processes. They must include escalating your complaint to a senior officer or manager if the problem is not resolved.
You must try to resolve any dispute with your retailer or distributor first before submitting a complaint with our office.
Take the time to prepare before making a complaint, to note the details and gather all relevant documentation.
When you do make contact, you should provide:
- Your name.
- Your account/customer number.
- Your National Metering Identifier (electricity), Meter Installation Reference Number (gas) and meter numbers.
- Clear and factual information about the issue.
You should also advise them of what you are seeking to resolve the dispute and request a response within a reasonable time frame (e.g. 2 weeks).
You are entitled to tell the retailer what you will do if a resolution is not achieved within this time frame (e.g. escalate the complaint; contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman).
Be sure to write down details of your calls, including the date, time and who you to spoke to and any reference numbers that were provided. Also keep copies of any formal communication (such as letters, emails, faxes, bills or other documents) between you and the retailer or distributor.
The Energy and Water Ombudsman can assist you when you have been unable to resolve your complaint directly with your retailer or distributor.
You must first give the retailer or distributor the opportunity to resolve your dispute before contacting us.
We are an independent dispute resolution service.
We provide a free service to electricity, gas and water consumers; but we are not consumer advocates, nor do we advocate for the retailer or distributor.
We are able to assist with complaints about:
- Billing: High or disputed bills, not receiving bills, errors in your bill, bulk hot water bills, estimated or incorrect usage charged, incorrect tariffs, rate or fees and charges applied.
- Credit: Payment difficulties, default listing, disconnection or imminent disconnection of your energy supply or restriction of your water supply for the non-payment of bills.
- Connections: Problems with the provision and supply of electricity, gas or water.
- Supply: Supply quality, planned or unplanned energy or water interruptions, or if you suffer damages or loss due to supply issues.
- Marketing: The conduct of energy salespeople, for example pressuring you into accepting a contract, or providing misleading information.
- Transfers: The erroneous transfer of your account to another retailer or delays with a transfer.
- Customer service: The behaviour and manner of energy and water retailer's staff, contractors and agents.
We are unable to assist with complaints about:
- Energy or water pricing policies and tariff structures.
- Government policies, codes or legislation.
- Supply interruptions caused by emergency situations.
- Complaints which have already been considered by a court, tribunal or arbitrator, or are before one of those bodies.
- Customer contribution to cost of capital works.
- Complaints relating to electrician, gas fitter or plumbing services or appliances including solar systems.
- On-selling energy or water to tenants in caravan parks, retirement villages and other multi-tenanted dwellings.
- Bottled LPG.
If we are unable to assist you we will provide the appropriate contacts to help with your complaint.
Before you contact our office, you must give the retailer or distributor the opportunity to resolve your dispute.
Details of the complaint
In order for our office to be able to submit a complaint, we will need to gather sufficient and specific details from you regarding the matter.
For example, if your complaint is regarding a high bill you should:
- Have the high bill with you.
- Have details of your previous bills/usage.
- Have your account/customer number.
- Have your meter number, NMI (electricity) or MIRN (gas).
- Be prepared to explain exactly why you feel the bill is incorrect.
- Tell us what you are seeking to resolve the dispute.
- Allow yourself enough time to talk to us.
If you cannot provide the information that we need to help you, we may ask you to call back at another time. We strongly suggest you are prepared before you call.
Authority to Act
If you are acting on behalf of someone else, we require permission (written or verbal) from the account holder via our Authority to Act form before proceeding.
Submitting a complaint with our office is simple:
- Submit an online complaint.
- Free Call 1800 665 565 (calls from mobiles may attract charges – let us know if you would like us to call you back).
- Free Fax 1800 665 165.
- Write to GPO Box 2947, Adelaide, SA, 5001.
The AER is Australia’s national energy market regulator and an independent statutory authority. The AER is responsible for monitoring compliance with National Energy Retail Law and Rules.
The AER receives reports on complaints and disputes from energy providers and ombudsman schemes. These details are used to assist AER in carrying out its compliance monitoring role.
ESCOSA continues to monitor certain energy retail functions and assists the AER as appropriate.
ESCOSA is also responsible for the economic regulation of water and sewerage services in South Australia, including industry licensing, consumer protection and retail pricing.