Switching power companies? Switch carefully, says Utilities Disputes
19 April 2018
New Zealanders have more choice than ever before if they’re looking for a better deal on their power bill. Electricity Authority data shows there are 48 electricity brands on offer, backed by 32 parent companies.
“Competition and increased consumer choice can be very positive. The choice to switch companies is entirely yours,” says Utilities Disputes Commissioner, Nanette Moreau. “We simply urge you to switch carefully. Checking the contract and asking questions could help prevent issues and complaints.”
Utilities Disputes is the free and independent complaint resolution service for electricity and gas consumers. “About five percent of all complaints to Utilities Disputes relate to switching,” says Ms Moreau. “That means 101 complaints in the past year related to switching. These highlight the issues people can face if they don’t switch carefully.”
Last year’s switching complaints included: unexpected fees for breaking the contract; unexpected re-connection charges; and high back bills.
“Switching involves ending one contract and agreeing to another. Reading contracts and asking questions of both companies could save you hundreds of dollars,” says Ms Moreau. “For example, if there is a high break-fee on your current contract, you mightn’t save as much as you wanted. Or, your current provider might be able to offer you a better plan.”
Questions to ask before you switch
Ask your current provider:
- When does my contract end?
- Is there a fee for breaking my contract?
- What is the fee?
- Can you offer me a better plan?
Ask the new provider:
- How long is the contract for?
- Is there a fee for breaking the contract?
- What’s the best pricing plan for me and my lifestyle?
- What are the payment options?
Read the new contract to confirm all of the terms you have agreed to are now in writing.
Utilities Disputes Media contact: Zoe Priestley email@example.com
Contact Utilities Disputes: 0800 22 33 47 firstname.lastname@example.org