The most complained about energy companies

What do you think of your energy company? The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and Essential Services Commissions (ESC) have revealed the number of complaints energy retailers received in the past year. Does your retailer make the list of shame?

The AER’s report reveals the number of complaints energy retailers received each quarter across Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT, while the ESC’s report shares details for the year in Victoria. Read on to find out how your power company performed.

Which energy retailers received the most complaints?

The AER recorded residential and small business customer complaints in each state. This data is displayed both in the number of complaints received and as a percentage of the retailer’s customer share. Below, we have listed the top 20 energy retailers with the highest number of complaints received during Q2 2021-2022, nationally. To provide context, we have also included the proportion of customers this amount is equivalent to from each provider.

This list combines both residential and small business complaints from each AER state or territory. It does not include data from Victoria.

Energy retailers with the most complaints in Australia

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
Origin Energy 5,458 0.3%
EnergyAustralia 5,033 0.5%
Red Energy 3,205 0.9%
AGL 2,649 0.2%
Aurora Energy 2,133 0.8%
Alinta Energy 1,288 0.4%
Ergon Energy 781 0.1%
Simply Energy 775 0.5%
Lumo Energy 449 1%
ActewAGL 330 0.2%
Dodo 295 0.6%
Mojo Power 270 3.2%
Momentum Energy 224 0.6%
1st Energy 144 0.6%
Powerdirect 84 0.2%
Powershop 82 0.1%
Energy Locals 75 0.2%
ReAmped Energy 61 0.2%
Sumo Power 61 0.3%
Discover Energy 56 0.6%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q 2021-22. Victorian data not included in this assessment. 

In the findings above, you will notice the larger companies with more customers receiving the most complaints. This is particularly the case from the ‘big three’ energy providers – AGL, EnergyAustralia and Origin. While these numbers appear greater on paper, remember that it is only a tiny fraction of their entire customer base across these regions.

Please note, while the information above can be useful for making a decision on your next provider, it should not be used to draw conclusions about retailer performance in handling complaints. While a retailer may receive and record many complaints, a great deal may be to do with wholesale or network costs and are out of the hands of the retailer. Some retailers are more than capable of dealing with complaints before needing to be escalated.

To further explore the data, we have listed state-by-state breakdowns below. For each state or territory, we have listed the eight retailers that received the highest number of complaints. 

Retailers with the highest number of complaints in NSW

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
EnergyAustralia 4,338 0.5%
Origin Energy 3,035 0.3%
Red Energy 2,480 0.9%
AGL 1,477 0.2%
Simply Energy 543 0.9%
Alinta Energy 427 0.4%
Mojo Power 212 3.6%
Dodo 200 0.6%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22.

EnergyAustralia took out the highest number of complaints in New South Wales, with an increase of 275 complaints to that seen in the previous quarter. In proportion to the number of customers it has across NSW, EnergyAustralia’s complaint tally sits at the lower end of the list.

Retailers with the highest number of complaints in QLD

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
Origin Energy 1,413 0.2%
Ergon Energy 781 0.1%
Red Energy 595 1.2%
Alinta Energy 581 0.3%
AGL 539 0.1%
EnergyAustralia 293 0.3%
Simply Energy 81 0.6%
Dodo 55 0.5%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22. 

Origin Energy received the most complaints in Queensland, followed by Ergon Energy and Red Energy. When looking at Queensland’s data, it’s important to note that Ergon Energy is one of the only retailers available to regional Queenslanders. As such, this retailer manages a large proportion of energy customers within the state.

Retailers with the highest number of complaints in SA

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
Origin Energy 894 0.4%
AGL 633 0.2%
Lumo Energy 449 1%
EnergyAustralia 346 0.6%
Alinta Energy 280 0.6%
Simply Energy 151 0.2%
Red Energy 77 1.2%
Dodo 40 0.9%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22.

Origin Energy, one of South Australia’s largest energy companies, received the most complaints in SA.

Retailers with the highest number of complaints in ACT

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
ActewAGL 260 0.2%
Origin Energy 116 0.3%
EnergyAustralia 56 0.5%
Red Energy 53 2%
Radian Energy 5 2.7%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22.

ActewAGL has topped the list for the ACT in Q2 2021-22, however, the retailer has seen a small decrease of about 80 complaints in comparison to the previous quarter. As far as customer proportions go though, ActewAGL has barely scratched the surface of its customer base with complaints.

Tasmania Complaints

While the Tasmanian energy market has started to become more competitive, with seven retailers now available to customers, there still remains very little data to report on around complaints and market share.

Of the data that has been collected however, it was found that Aurora Energy – a state-owned electricity provider – received the most complaints in Q2 2021-2022, recording a total of 2,133. This is equivalent to 0.8 per cent of the retailer’s customer base. It should be noted that until 2019, Aurora Energy was the only electricity retailer available in Tasmania.

Victoria Complaints

When it comes to energy in Victoria, the state has its own independent regulator – The Essential Services Commission (ESC) – responsible for recording data. The ESC publishes a similar report to the AER, which also looks at complaints to retailers. However, instead of covering each quarter, the ESC only reports this data on a yearly basis. Unlike the AER’s reporting approach, the ESC also collates the number of complaints per 100 customers.

Below we have listed the top eight energy retailers with the largest number of residential electricity-related complaints in Victoria for 2020-2021.

Retailers with the highest number of complaints in VIC

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (2020-2021) Complaints per 100 customers
Origin Energy 6,819 1.48
Simply Energy 6,466 2.56
Red Energy 5,249 2.3
EnergyAustralia 4,835 1.21
AGL 3,828 0.64
Alinta Energy 3,125 2.54
Lumo Energy 2,809 1.93
Momentum Energy 2,068 1.92

Source: ESC ‘Victorian Energy Market Report’ 2020-21.

Similar to the AER states and territories, it’s generally the larger energy companies receiving the most complaints. In Victoria, Origin had recorded the most complaints for 2020-21. While this number is slightly higher than the previous year, complaints in relation to its customer base have remained quite steady, only equating to less than two complaints per 100 customers.

Which energy retailers received the least complaints?

Residential and small business energy customers generally seem most pleased with the service of smaller retailers, with many up-and-coming companies receiving the least number of complaints over a quarter. When looking at this data though, it may be worth keeping in mind that most of these smaller retailers have less customers, which makes the number of complaints they have received much greater than it actually is. For example, if an energy provider only has 20 customers in NSW and two make a complaint, that’ll represent 10 per cent of their market share.

That’s why we’ve shared the top five energy companies from each state below that have recorded the lowest number of complaints in Q2 2021-2022. Like the tables above, we have also listed the equivalent proportion of customers these complaints reflect.

Please note, we have only included energy companies that hold a market share equal to or more than 0.1% in each given state for residential or small business customers in the relevant quarter. We have also excluded any retired power providers from this list.

Retailers with the least amount of complaints in NSW

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
Diamond Energy 0 0.0%
ERM Power* 0 0.0%
OC Energy 0 0.0%
Flow Systems 2 0.1%
Elysian Energy 7 0.3%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22. *ERM Power now operates as Shell Energy. 

Retailers with the least amount of complaints in QLD

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
Apex Energy 0 0.0%
ERM Power* 0 0.0%
Next Business Energy 2 0.1%
Diamond Energy 3 0.1%
GloBird Energy 5 0.3%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22.*ERM Power now operates as Shell Energy. 

Retailers with the least amount of complaints in SA

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (Q2 2021-2022) As a proportion of customers
ERM Power* 0 0.0%
Winenergy 0 0.0%
Next Business Energy 1 0.1%
QEnergy 1 0.5%
Diamond Energy 2 0.1%

Source: AER Retail Markets Report Q2 2021-22.*ERM Power now operates as Shell Energy. 

Retailers with the least amount of complaints in VIC

Please note, this data is shared from the ESC, not the AER. Customer proportions for complaints are displayed as ‘complaints per 100 customers’ as opposed to a percentage. As with the AER states, only retailers with more than 0.1% market share have been listed. This information is only relevant to residential electricity complaints.

Energy Retailer Complaints to the retailer (2020-2021) Complaints per 100 customers
Discover Energy 4 2.12
Diamond Energy 5 0.14
Electricity in a Box 7 3.12
ReAmped Energy 23 1.79
Elysian Energy 33 0.43

Source: ESC ‘Victorian Energy Market Report’ 2020-21.

What are customers complaining about?

In addition to recording the number of complaints each retailer has received from customers, the AER also noted the types of things Aussies are complaining about. Below we have listed the top issues recorded for residential energy. Please note, this data does not include Victoria.

Top energy customer complaints for Q2 2021-22:

  • Billing: 13,604
  • Other: 6,699
  • Marketing: 856
  • Customer transfer: 702
  • Smart meter installation: 243

Which retailers are customers most satisfied with?

The number of complaints an energy retailer receives isn’t the full picture – a retailer may receive many complaints, but handle them well. Conversely, an energy retailer with only a few complaints might deal with them poorly. To offer a guide as to which electricity retailers are keeping their customers the most satisfied overall, Canstar Blue annually canvasses the opinions of thousands of households, asking them to rate their experience with their energy retailer across multiple key variables, including value for money and customer service. Check out the links below to see how your power company performed in your state.

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