Power bills are reported to be so high that more people are getting their electricity disconnected because they just can’t afford to pay their bills. This in turn is leading to credit file defaults. We look at why this might be occurring and look at the other energy customer complaints such as lack of notification of arrears which has led to more energy credit defaults, and more customer complaints about this industry. We believe the energy industry is overdue for some attention by regulators to stop the rising power prices and possibly a public inquiry into energy issues similar to what we had with the telecommunications industry.
By Graham Doessel, Founder and CEO of MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.
I read a shocking story in Adelaide Now today, titled Thousands going without power as electricity bill defaults skyrocket. It tells how the number of people in South Australia who have had their power disconnected is at a decade high– a 38% spike in disconnections. Here is an excerpt from that story:
MORE than 10,000 households had their power disconnected after failing to pay their bills – the highest cut-off rate in almost a decade.
Figures released by the industry regulator yesterday showed that 10,100 homes lost power in the 12 months to July, compared to 7300 the previous financial year.
Soaring power prices are being blamed for this 38 per cent spike in disconnections, with welfare groups reporting those on fixed incomes suffering the most – including one man who had to resort to cooking his meals over a wood fire in his back-yard for six months after being disconnected.
Welfare agency Anglicare said it had reports of disconnected households commonly using candles for lighting, heating rooms with barbecues – and keeping perishables such as milk and butter in Eskies.
Retailers are being asked by the Essential Services Commission of SA to be more flexible when dealing with “consumers experiencing genuine financial hardship”, because it is essential they have “continued access to energy”.
The number of reconnections is only about a third of the number of disconnections recorded in 2011/12, the figures show.
Further to this issue of 10,000 customers having their power disconnected because they just can’t pay their bills, is the other issue of questionable tactics by power companies when it comes to issuing defaults for unpaid or late accounts.
One of biggest issue with our energy credit repair clients is that many had not receive the any notice that they were in arrears prior to the energy company adding the default to their credit file. So in effect, the clients believe they have had no time to remedy the outstanding account prior to being issued with the default. This happens time and again with energy clients – despite many saying they had provided a forwarding address for any outstanding accounts to their energy provider if they have moved.
The energy company, when questioned claims to not have the forwarding address. At other times, they say they have provided notification to the client – but the client has not received it.
Who is right? It becomes a big he-said she-said! If individuals attempt to fight their case on their own – what chance do they have? Without the right skills for negotiating or access to and knowledge of legislation many wind up having to live with the default on their credit file even if they believe they shouldn’t be there. This means they are blacklisted from credit for 5 years.
Many experts are calling for a public inquiry into the energy industry. This we believe is long overdue.
In the meantime, energy customers will continue to face soaring prices in many States of Australia, and confusion over crippling defaults that may or may not be valid.
If you have an energy default, writ or Judgment that you need help in disputing, contact a Credit Repair Advisor at MyCRA for help and to assess your suitability 1300 667 218 or visit our main site for more information www.mycra.com.au.
Image: vorakorn/ www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net