Choice calls out the dark side of energy discounts
The article discusses one couple who missed their “pay-on-time discount” after a change in their energy plan meant they no longer received paper bills in the mail. In reality, Choice argues, the couple didn’t ‘miss a discount’ but rather they “copped a stinging late payment fee that increased the total bill be 60%”.
In NSW energy companies are not permitted to charge fees for receiving paper bills sent in the mail, or by paying the bill at the Post Office counter, yet some companies won’t give you access to the so-called “discount” unless you pay by direct debit and choose paperless billing.
Out of 5940 gas and electricity retail market offers available in March 2018, 80% use ‘discounts’ to entice customers and 57% had at least one conditional offering, according to the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) in its 2018 review of the market. The most widespread of these conditional discounts are the pay-on-time ‘discounts’. More often than not it is the most disadvantaged Australians who are impacted by these so-called ‘discounts’, just as it is when consumers are penalised by opting for paper billing.
There is also a free government site to help consumers compare energy companies: