08 Peo­ple take back the power

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - ANNIKA SMETHURST

MORE than 100,000 fam­i­lies have rushed to se­cure a bet­ter power deal in re­cent weeks, after Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull pushed en­ergy com­pa­nies to write to cus­tomers stuck on ex­pen­sive plans.

Last month Mr Turn­bull sealed a deal with en­ergy re­tail­ers, who agreed to write to at least one mil­lion cus­tomers on more ex­pen­sive “stand­ing of­fers”, to let them know they could be en­ti­tled to a dis­count or cheaper deal.

En­ergy re­tail­ers also agreed to con­tact cus­tomers on ex­pir­ing dis­count of­fers to help them se­cure a bet­ter plan.

Since then, Ori­gin En­ergy recorded a 38 per cent rise in the num­ber of peo­ple call­ing for a bet­ter deal. Ori­gin said more than 48,000 Aus­tralians have trans­ferred to a dis­counted of­fer in the past month.

In re­sponse to the huge in­flux, Ori­gin will hire 200 new staff to work in call cen­tres in Mel­bourne and Ade­laide to cope with the ex­tra calls.

Ori­gin’s ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager of re­tail, Jon Briskin, said staff were deal­ing with “sig­nif­i­cantly higher call vol­umes”.

“At peak times this has meant some longer call-wait times, and that’s why we’ve added a large num­ber of new team mem­bers to our call cen­tres to make sure we are meet­ing de­mand from cus­tomers to get on bet­ter deals and save on en­ergy costs,” Mr Briskin said.

Red En­ergy, part of the Snowy Hy­dro group, has also ex­pe­ri­enced a 20 per cent spike in calls over the past fort­night. The num­ber of cus­tomers chas­ing a bet­ter deal has al­most dou­bled in the past week.

En­ergy Australia, which has 2.6 mil­lion cus­tomers, re­ceived about 30 per cent more calls na­tion­ally in Au­gust com­pared to the pre­vi­ous month.

More than 30,000 cus­tomers re­viewed and changed their gas and elec­tric­ity plans to a bet­ter deal.

Australia’s largest elec­tric­ity re­tailer AGL also con­firmed the num­ber of cus­tomers chang­ing plans had in­creased each month since June.

When asked about the boost in fam­i­lies con­tact­ing their en­ergy com­pany to se­cure a bet­ter deal, Mr Turn­bull said he was “de­lighted” by the re­sponse.

“We called in the re­tail­ers be­cause too many fam­i­lies were pay­ing too much for their elec­tric­ity,” Mr Turn­bull said.

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