Who is the Energy Ombudsman?

“Have you tried contacting the Energy Ombudsman?” This is often the response you’ll hear if you’re complaining to a friend or co-worker about an issue you’re having with your gas or electricity retailer. But who is the Energy Ombudsman? Most people have heard of them, but many aren’t sure what it actually is that they do. Are they just an advocate for the energy industry? Will they be willing to hear your complaint? And can they really help?

Who is the Energy Ombudsman?

First of all, there isn’t just one Energy Ombudsman – there are different ones for each state/territory. It is their job to hear and investigate complaints that are made by consumers against energy retailers, with the hope of achieving some kind of resolution. The various Energy Ombudsman are not advocates for the electricity and gas companies – they are independent and operate as not-for-profit organisations so that retail customers can have confidence in their impartiality. Making a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman is also free, so you don’t have to worry about hefty fees.

What is the Process for Making A Complaint to the Energy Ombudsman?

The Energy Ombudsman is there to help you, but they will require you to follow some important steps prior to their accepting your complaint. Before they will offer dispute resolution, they will want to confirm that you have already taken “reasonable” steps to resolve the issue with the retailer yourself – so you should start by contacting your energy provider directly to discuss the issue. Many smaller problems can be fixed just by having a simple conversation. If the issue can’t be resolved by talking to a Customer Service representative, then you should ask to speak to a manager.

At this point, it is a good idea to put your complaint in writing (clearly outlining all the relevant details) so that it can be formally submitted to the company. Not only will this often help in getting things sorted, but it also acts as proof that you have been trying your best to get the problem rectified. If, after submitting your complaint in writing, you are still not able to achieve a resolution then this is the time to contact the Energy Ombudsman.

What Kind of Disputes Can the Energy Ombudsman Help With?

The Energy Ombudsman can accept complaints from electricity or gas customers, or from those who may be impacted by the actions of an energy retailer (such as planned works by the retailer which may affect a person’s land). Typically, these disputes will involve things like billing and payments, debt collection, disconnections, supply issues, contract transfers, customer service, infrastructure or marketing.

However, there is a range of issues that the Energy Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over. They won’t be able to get involved if your complaint is related to tariff pricing, past or ongoing legal issues or any Government policies and legislation.

For more information, why not contact your relevant Energy Ombudsman:

 

Author: Bec Wilkinson
Bec Wilkinson is an ElectricityComparison.com.au News Contributor from Melbourne, Australia. Bec is a founding member of the Electricity Comparison news team.