A nationwide survey of 6,000 electricity customers by Canstar Blue found that just 31% of South Australians have moved to another provider in the last five years. That compares to 50% of households in Victoria and 42% in NSW, where electricity prices have also been deregulated.
However, of those South Australians who have switched, more than three-quarters report cheaper bills as a result.
“Switching electricity providers is right up there with visiting the dentist when it comes to things you put off time and time again, even if deep down you know that something needs to be done. These findings should give consumers confidence that their efforts can be rewarded if they pluck up the courage to switch,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle.
“Switching can be confusing and even quite daunting, with the fear hanging over you that you’ll end up worse off. That’s why, for some people, it’s a case of better the devil you know. But if you suspect you’re paying more than you need to, or not getting the customer service you should expect, it’s madness to carry on.
“If you’ve been stuck on the same tariff for several years, there’s a good chance you’re paying more than you need to. So unless your electricity provider is your favourite charity, it’s time to do something about it. That could mean switching, but it might just mean contacting your retailer and asking about your options. The point is, don’t just sit on your hands and complain about energy costs.”
A significant 80% of South Australians who have switched electricity providers say they are pleased they did, with 77% benefiting from reduced bills. The same number of customers in Victoria and New South Wales also reported lower bills.
But after benefiting from one switch, South Australians are the most likely to set and forget, with only 35% of switchers saying they would like to move again. That compares to 45% in both Victoria and NSW.
“It’s a good idea to regularly review your options. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to your retailer and request the best deal possible in your area,” said Mrs Doyle. “You’re paying for service, as well as electricity. In addition, get quotes from other providers and if you find a better deal, let your existing one know – they may be able to match it, or you can choose to leave.”
Respondents to the Canstar Blue survey rated their current electricity provider on customer satisfaction, with Lumo Energy topping the table in South Australia, ahead of Origin, Simply Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia.
“This research should not only give consumers greater confidence that switching could be worth their while, but also that some of the smaller providers are worth looking at,” said Mrs Doyle.
“There is a perception among some people that the big energy providers are more reliable than the smaller ones. But electricity in your area comes from the same distributors regardless of which retailer you’re with, so don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere.”
About this research
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults in December 2015 and January 2016. The customer satisfaction ratings are based on the responses of 5,228 consumers who have an active electricity account and pay the bill. Electricity providers must have received a minimum of 30 responses to be included in the ratings.