‘We hope they understand’: EnergyAustralia brings back paper bill fees

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EnergyAustralia has announced it is reintroducing costs for receiving paper bills, two years after scrapping the fees.

The electricity and gas giant, with around 1.7 million customers across the country, is kicking off efforts to get households to sign up to email billing to avoid the charge of $1.69 per bill.

EnergyAustralia scrapped paper bill fees back in February 2018, at the time declaring that it was “listening to customers” who “do not like these fees”. However, the retailer now admits it can no longer afford to maintain the policy and says it’s not fair on customers who receive email bills to subsidise the costs.

“A paper bill is 2,000% more expensive to produce than an electronic one. We don’t believe it’s right that the customers who use our eBilling platform should contribute to the cost of customers who choose to receive a paper bill,” said Mark Collette, EnergyAustralia’s Chief Customer Officer. “The good news is, customers still have time to avoid the fee and benefit from the convenience of eBilling.

“The decision several years ago to remove the paper bill charge was done with the best of intentions in the belief we could absorb the costs. Since then, the cost of sending nearly 12 million sheets of paper has gone up, today making it unsustainable and no longer fair.

“From 6 April those who choose a paper bill will now cover the cost of this themselves – we hope they understand the decision being made. EnergyAustralia will not make any profit from this charge and vulnerable customers will be exempt.”

In 2018, EnergyAustralia said 60% of customers still received paper bills, but now says the majority are on board with email bills.

The retailer originally introduced paper bill fees in 2016 and says the cost of sending bills has increased by more than 20% between now and then.

The $1.69 charge will apply from 6 April, but there are many exemptions. Residential customers in New South Wales are not charged for energy bills under state legislation, while vulnerable customers will also dodge the fees, including concession card holders and those on EnergyAustralia’s EnergyAssist program, which is dedicated to supporting customers going through a period of hardship. Customers on standing offers in Queensland will also be exempt from the costs.

EnergyAustralia says more than 800,000 residential customers have now enrolled for eBilling and that it will continue encouraging the move so more can avoid the fee when it’s introduced.

Instructions on how EnergyAustralia customers can enrol for eBilling will now permanently be shown on paper bills in Victoria, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.

AGL and Origin also charge for paper bills

While EnergyAustralia has reintroduced its $1.69 paper bill fee, it’s not alone when it comes to charging customers for getting their bills in the mail. Fellow energy giants AGL and Origin both continue to charge customers $1.75 per bill, unless they are exempt because of state legislation or other reasons. However, several retailers, including Alinta Energy, Click Energy and Red Energy, do not charge for paper bills.

Canstar Blue Editor-in-Chief, Simon Downes, said that although paper bill fees are annoying, customers should pay more attention to the usage and supply rates they pay, which will ultimately have a bigger impact on their overall costs.

“Telling customers you’re introducing a fee is never going to be a popular move, but the reality is that energy bill-payers shouldn’t get too worked up about small costs for paper bills. They should be more concerned about the actual energy rates they’re paying,” he said. “You could be on the cheapest energy deal around but pay a paper bill fee. Likewise, you could get free paper bills but pay the highest prices around.

“It’s frustrating to be charged simply for receiving a bill, so don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere if your retailer does it. But ultimately the specific usage and supply rates you pay for power have a much bigger impact on your overall costs, so make sure you shop around and get the best overall value you can find.

“Unfortunately for some customers, the trend is now towards online communications, which is why some retailers offer discounts if you opt out of paper bills. Like paying by direct debit, anything you can do to make life easier for your retailer is likely to result in lower costs.”

Electricity Prices Compared

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

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