Victoria’s energy retailers are in fierce competition to attract the attention of the one-in-three households in the state who would like to ditch their current provider.
That’s one of the findings from Canstar Blue’s natural gas customer satisfaction review for 2015, which has seen Lumo Energy rated highest by consumers in Victorias for the second year in succession and third time in four years.
Based on a survey of 1,340 bill-payers in the state, Lumo beat six other major retailers for overall customer satisfaction, as well as customer service, billing clarity and payment plan options.
“Victoria is a fierce battleground for the energy retailers,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “They are aggressively competing for every new customer and will be desperate not to lose any existing ones. You can’t have failed to notice the advertising campaigns from retailers trying to attract the attention of consumers. But whether or not they’re paying attention is another matter.
“This is good news for consumers, though, who shouldn’t be afraid to play hardball with their retailers over improved terms. If you’re not sure about the type of contract you’re on and the rate you’re paying, find out and push for a better deal. And if you feel like you’re not being heard, look around for other options – you’ll find more than 20 other retailers wanting your business.”
The survey found that 36% of bill-payers in Victoria would like to switch providers, but are put off because they believe the process is too daunting or they simply can’t find the time. This compares to 32% in Queensland, 34% in South Australia and 38% in New South Wales.
The importance of customer service
While value for money was found to be the biggest driver of customer satisfaction in Victoria, bill-payers in the state were more concerned about receiving good customer service than those in any other part of Australia, the survey found.
“There is a perception that costs vary little between different energy retailers, so customers may be looking for other points of difference,” said Mrs Doyle. “Customer service is the new battleground for retailers. While cost is the major driving force for consumers in some states, Victorians appreciate the importance of good service.”
The cost of gas in Victoria
Conducted towards the end of winter in September, the survey found that Victorians reported more expensive quarterly gas bills than consumers in any other state involved, at an average of $284. That compares to $246 in South Australia, $240 in New South Wales and $156 in Queensland.
Two-thirds (66%) of bill-payers in Victoria said they have made an effort in the last year to use less gas in the hope of lowering bills.
“Whether or not the Victorian energy market can sustain so many retailers remains to be seen, but for now consumers are being presented with plenty of options and they should regularly review their current plans to see if there is a better deal for them out there,” said Mrs Doyle.
“With so many retailers vying for your business, who could say with any confidence that they’re really getting the best deal they can?”