Compare South Australia gas suppliers Simply Energy, Origin, AGL and EnergyAustralia on customer service, bill & cost clarity, tools & advice, environmental sustainability, value for money and overall customer satisfaction in 2018.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Natural gas is a pretty basic power source, but finding the best gas deal for your needs can be anything but easy. The gas market in South Australia is becoming increasingly competitive and while this is good news for customers shopping around for cheaper rates, it means there are more providers and plans that you need to navigate. However, Canstar Blue aims to make the process of finding better value a little bit easier with our annual customer satisfaction review. We’ve surveyed hundreds of bill-paying customers across Adelaide and the surrounding areas to find out what they think about their gas supplier in respect of its customer service, bill & cost clarity and the value for money it provides. Finding the right deal for you is about more than just the cheapest price – but getting a good deal certainly helps. So which gas supplier has come out on top?
This year, our ratings feature four big gas companies in South Australia, but only one achieved a five-star review when it comes to customer service, value for money and overall satisfaction. Simply Energy could be considered the ‘smallest’ of the gas suppliers in this review, but it’s certainly a viable alternative to its bigger rivals. If you’ve been reluctant to consider a switch to a smaller retailer in the past, now might be a good time to think again.
This year’s review suggests there is a clear divide in customer satisfaction between gas retailers big and small in South Australia. This may not necessarily be reflected by prices, but when it comes to important considerations like service and advice, Simply Energy has come out ahead of the crowd. It’s a similar tale when it comes to electricity providers, with Simply Energy also rated highest in our electricity review. If you’re keen to compare electricity prices, you can do so with our comparison tool below. And read on for further details about your gas options in SA.
Simply Energy’s gas plans in South Australia mirror the retailer’s electricity products, with four different options to consider. These include an exclusive deal for RAA members that brings an additional discount to its other offers, plus a plan targeted at movie-lovers, with up to 32 ‘free’ cinema tickets up for grabs. Contract periods are 12 or 24 months – depending on the plan – and exit fees could also apply. All plans come with variable rates and varying conditional discounts off usage charges for paying bills on time. It’s important to note that Simply Energy does not offer gas-only deals, meaning customers will also need to switch their electricity to sign up. South Australians seem to think it’s worth the effort, however, scoring the retailer five stars for customer service, bill & cost clarity, value for money and overall satisfaction. It rated four stars on tools & advice and environmental sustainability.
Energy giant Origin has three market offers for South Australians, with varying discounts and conditions based on personal preferences. Prospective customers can choose between gas plans with either pay on time or direct debit discounts off usage charges, or a third option with a guaranteed – but smaller – total bill discount. The three products all come with variables rates, with benefit periods of either 12 or 24 months, depending on the plan. There are no exit fees with Origin plans. Origin also offers a fixed cost plan called ‘Predictable Plan’, whereby customers receive a unique quote based on their household’s specific usage history. Origin recorded a reasonable set of results in this year’s gas review, scoring four stars for overall satisfaction, bill & cost clarity and customer service. It rated three stars in terms of value for money and environmental sustainability, with just two stars on tools & advice.
AGL provides three market offer gas plans in South Australia, the conditions and discounts of which vary depending on personal preferences. The biggest discount offer comes with direct debit billing, followed by AGL’s pay on time discount product. Discounts apply to usage charges only. The third gas option brings a smaller but guaranteed discount, which is applied to the whole bill. The benefit period of all three plans is 12 months. AGL offers an additional discount off usage charges when customers also buy electricity in a dual fuel package. Rates are variable. Customers can also earn flybuys points with AGL, with one point awarded for every $1 spent on energy. AGL received three stars for overall satisfaction in our gas review for SA. It also got three stars for customer service and bill & cost clarity, with only two stars on value for money, tools & advice and environmental sustainability.
There are just two gas plans on offer from EnergyAustralia in South Australia. Prospective customers can choose between plans with a guaranteed discount off gas usage charges, or another that brings a bigger discount, but is dependent on paying bills on time. Both products come with variables rates and no exit fees. In both cases the benefit period is 12 months. EnergyAustralia also tends to offer a rebate on your first bill when you sign up online. However, be aware that this incentive may not always be available. It was three stars for overall satisfaction for EnergyAustralia in this year’s gas ratings. It also scored three stars for customer service and bill & cost clarity, but only earned two stars on value for money, tools & advice and environmental sustainability.
In addition to the market offer gas products mentioned above, all four retailers in this year’s review also have standard gas contracts in South Australia. These are regulated contracts that you may be on if you have never switched gas suppliers, or haven’t switched in several years. According to the latest industry report from the Australian Energy Regulator, 13% of households in SA are on a standard gas contract.
Also keep in mind that there are other gas companies operating in South Australia. While the four in our review can generally be considered the most prominent, retailers including Alinta Energy, Lumo Energy, Red Energy, Click Energy and Amaysim Energy also retail gas in SA. However, 87% of households in SA remain connected with one of the big three.
In South Australia, gas typically costs 2-4 cents per megajoule (MJ) – the unit of measurement for gas. The exact price you’ll pay depends on a number of factors, including your gas retailer, plan and tariff. In SA, gas retailers charge for gas in ‘blocks’ of daily usage. For example, you might pay 3.8c per MJ for the first block of 30 megajoules, followed by 3.2 cents per MJ for the next block of 20 megajoules and then 2.2c per MJ for all remaining usage. It’s important to check your energy price fact sheets for all rates. Some suppliers charge for gas in just two daily blocks, while others charge in multiple increments. To put these prices into perspective, the average gas oven will use around 12 megajoules an hour.
In addition to these gas usage charges, also pay close attention to the daily supply charges in your price fact sheet. These are the costs you’ll need to pay simply for the pleasure of being connected to the gas network. These can add a significant amount to your overall bill – typically around 60c to 80c a day. It’s entirely possible that gas supply charges could contribute a higher proportion of your overall costs than gas usage charges, especially if you don’t use gas for water heating.
If you’re worried about signing up with a small gas supplier, remember that these companies are simply the customer-facing part of your overall service. They handle your billing and general enquiries, but it’s the gas distributors that are actually responsible for your supply. In South Australia, the gas distributor is Australian Gas Networks (formerly Envestra). This is who you will need to contact in the event of a gas leak or other emergency.
The gas you use for your hot water system or stove cooktop comes from a number of different sources. The majority of natural gas in Australia (around 60%) is used to generate electricity and the rest is piped to households and businesses throughout the distribution network. South Australia’s gas is sourced from Victoria, Queensland and the Cooper Basin, with six transmission pipelines delivering the gas to Adelaide and major regional areas. Retailers purchase this gas and sell it onto their customers. Transmission and distribution costs account for as much as 50% of your final bill. Households who can’t access the natural gas distribution network can purchase liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Customers connected to the gas distribution network can access one of two types of contracts with their gas supplier – standard contracts and market contracts. Understanding the difference is the first step to saving money.
Market contracts will almost always work out cheaper than standard contracts, provided that you meet the conditions of any discounts. Market gas contracts come with either variable or fixed rates. If you haven’t switched plans in recent years, you will likely save money by switching to a new offer with a conditional discount. Ultimately though, you will need to get to know usage and supply charges, and compare rates between different suppliers. If you think you’re paying too much for gas, you probably are. It’s the same deal when it comes to electricity, so make sure you shop around.
Canstar Blue surveyed 9,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. Data was collected use Qualtrics’ online sample aggregation from ISO accredited panels. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who live in South Australia, have a gas account and pay the bills – in this case, 406 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. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. 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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