Do you live in QLD and are looking for a better electricity plan for your home? Compare electricity providers, plans and rates in QLD with Canstar Blue.
* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order. *
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Canstar Blue research finalised December 2015, published January 2016.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Nothing can ruin a good day like your next electricity bill dropping into your letter box – or into your email inbox. But all that power you use at home needs to be paid for by someone. As customers in Queensland, all you can hope for is an electricity retailer that provides good customer service, sound advice when it’s needed, and makes the whole process as easy and stress free as possible.
So which energy company is keeping its customers the most satisfied in the Sunshine State? At Canstar Blue, we make it our business to find out, by surveying more than 1,000 bill-paying Queenslanders and asking them to rate their supplier across a number of important variables. Australia’s big three energy companies – AGL, Origin and EnergyAustralia – have all taken out top spot for customer satisfaction in Queensland over the years but in 2016, we can announce a new winner, Click Energy.
As the name suggests, Click Energy is an online electricity retailer – the first in Australia to be 100% online, it says. Being an online only energy company makes dealing with Click Energy fast and straightforward, the company claims. Rather than picking up the phone and probably waiting on hold to speak with a service representative, you can simply send Click Energy an email and wait for a reply. That arguably has its advantages and disadvantages, but the company insists its mission is to “make electricity as simple as possible” for its customers, and those in Queensland certainly seem convinced, having given Click Energy a strong set of scores across the board, including five stars for customer service and value for money.
The Queensland electricity market is going through a period of change, with the state government set to deregulate electricity prices in 2016, in line with the southern states of Australia. Queensland introduced Full Retail Competition in 2007, five years after New South Wales and Victoria, and four years after South Australia. Full Retail Competition meant that new energy retailers were able to enter the local market and compete with the incumbents, but retail prices have remained under government control. Consumers across most of state are – with the exception of some rural areas – able to choose their natural gas supplier, but only residential and business customers in south-east Queensland can pick their electricity provider. Competition is limited in the rest of Queensland as most regional and rural customers continue to be supplied by Ergon Energy under a standard contract. Ergon Energy receives a subsidy to ensure that consumers in higher-cost regional and rural areas pay the same regulated prices as consumers in lower-cost south-east Queensland.
In Queensland, electricity prices currently remain regulated by the Queensland Competition Authority. Bills are based on a consumption charge for the amount of electricity used, plus a daily service fee. The type of contract a customer is on may also impact costs, with tariff 11 the most common for residential customers, although other market contract options are available. However, the state government plans to lift controls on electricity prices in the south-east of Queensland by mid-2016, meaning retailers will be responsible for setting prices. Most of the state’s gas market has already been deregulated. The Victorian government deregulated the state’s electricity prices in 2009, followed by South Australia in 2012 and New South Wales in 2014.
Electricity customers in south-east Queensland are already free to switch energy providers if they wish, but as prices have remained regulated by the government, the appetite to do so has not been as great as in the southern states where providers are fiercely competing over price. Our research shows that just 29% of households in Queensland have switched electricity retailers in the last five years – that compares to 50% in Victoria, 42% in New South Wales and 31% in South Australia, where price regulations have been lifted.
Across those southern states, at least 80% of customers are glad they switched. In Queensland, the number drops to 75%. And 77% of customers in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia report savings on their energy bills after switching but in Queensland, that number is just 68%. The good news for consumers in Queensland is that with the lifting of pricing regulations, more energy retailers are likely to enter the market and competition will increase. So what’s been holding people back from switching in the last five years? We found:
Meanwhile, 2% of Queenslanders are happy to stay with their provider because they benefit from a rewards program, while the same number of people are concerned about losing their power supply if they switch.
Queenslanders may not be as accustomed to switching energy providers as their cousins in the south but once price regulations are lifted, it really is worth considering – particularly if you’re fed up with the service you currently receive. There is a perception that switching power companies is one of the most challenging and frustrating things you can do, but just remember that the retailer sets to benefit from your new business so they will try to make the switching process as straightforward as possible. It’s certainly worth making the effort if you find that a new provider can save you big bucks on your bills.
Switching could begin with simply registering your interest on a provider’s website and waiting for them to call you with details. There are also various websites dedicated to helping you compare tariffs and prices. Look at the ratings table above and click on the name of the provider you’re interested in switching to.
The important thing to say about switching electricity providers is that you should not be concerned about losing your power supply because another retailer is somehow less reliable at connecting your home to the grid. The energy that flows into your home comes from the same infrastructure regardless of the logo on your bill. The energy retailers are simply the customer-facing business which handles your energy contract, sets the prices you pay and deals with your enquiries. The energy distributors get the power to your home, with different distributors responsible for their respective geographical areas. There are two electricity distributors in Queensland:
While Ergon and Energex currently serve very different parts of Queensland, the Palaszczuk government has announced plans to merge the two distributors, creating the largest power company in Australia.
As Queensland is yet to deregulate electricity prices, costs between providers should only vary slightly, meaning the biggest point of difference between them is likely to come down to the customer service and support they offer. Just because you’re unlikely to save money on your power bill by switching, doesn’t mean you should accept sub-standard service. So what matters most to electricity customers in Queensland? We found the drivers of customer satisfaction to be as follows:
While the price you pay for power will always be important, the impact of bad customer service shouldn’t be underestimated. In 2016, we’ve found that Click Energy is keeping its Queensland customers the most satisfied.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 6,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who live in Queensland, have an electricity account, and pay the bill – in this case, 1,045 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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