The two retailers were found by the Essential Services Commission (ESC) – Victoria’s independent energy regulator – to have charged more than the permitted amount on the VDO for more than 470 customers following the VDO change in January 2022.
According to the ESC, customers were billed incorrectly in January and February 2022 before the retailers updated pricing in their respective systems.
The VDO acts as a pricing ‘safeguard’ for Victorian customers unwilling to engage in the energy market. Kate Symons, ESC chairperson said the VDO essentially acted as a ‘fair’ price for power.
“The commission has no hesitation in taking action to ensure the Victorian Default Offer remains a trusted safeguard for energy customers, including those experiencing vulnerability,” she said. “Protecting the interests of those consumers is an enduring priority for the commission and any alleged failure to provide access to the correct rate is a great concern.
“Every Victorian energy consumer has the right to expect they are being billed correctly and all energy retailers, regardless of their size, must have systems and processes in place to ensure their billing practices comply with the rules.”
The ESC found that the amount overcharged reached a combined total of almost $3,000. Incorrect amounts ranged from less than $1 to almost $35 for Mojo Power East customers, while QEnergy customers were charged from less than $1 to more than $100 incorrectly.
This pricing was found to impact 409 Mojo Power East customers and 64 QEnergy customers, some of which were receiving assistance for payment difficulties, Ms Symons added.
“While it’s alleged some amounts were very small our investigation indicated that some of the affected customers were receiving assistance for payment difficulties while others were concession holders.
“Any additional financial stress on people in hardship can have a real impact and household budgets can be under pressure at any given time so the commission is continually monitoring retailers to make sure they’re following the rules and doing the right thing by their customers.”
Affected customers were reimbursed in March 2022 by QEnergy and Mojo Power East.
Please note, Mojo Power East ceased trading in New South Wales, south-east Queensland and South Australia in July 2022.
What should you do if you think your energy bill is incorrect?
If you think there may be an error with your energy bill amount, there are a few steps you can take to get it corrected, the first being contacting your energy provider.
Explain your situation and provide any details needed to help them assess the situation. If you are unhappy with the solution provided by the customer service representative, then it might be worth asking to speak to a manager or supervisor.
If you still feel the issue has not been resolved with your energy provider during the agreed upon timeframe then it might be time to contact the ombudsman in your area for further assistance.
Here is the current contact list for ombudsman across Australia:
- NSW: Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW (1800 246 545)
- VIC: Energy & Water Ombudsman Victoria (1800 500 509)
- QLD: Energy & Water Ombudsman Queensland (1800 662 837)
- SA: Energy & Water Ombudsman South Australia (1800 665 565)
- ACT: ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (02 6207 1740)
- TAS: Energy Ombudsman Tasmania (1800 001 170)