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Late payment fee crackdown on energy bills

Lucy Dean
No one likes a bill shock. Image: Getty
No one likes a bill shock. Image: Getty

Energy retailers will no longer be able to hit customers with a late payment double whammy under proposed rules.

The Liberal government has made a submission to change the rules around energy retailers’ late payment fees.

Currently, energy retailers are able to offer large discounts of up to 45 per cent off customers’ bills in exchange for their business and on-time payments.

However, if the customer misses even one payment, they’re often charged a significant late payment fee in addition to losing the discounted price, the minister for energy Angus Taylor said today.

And concerningly, one in four Australians fail to meet the conditions to receive the discount, figures from the ACCC reveal.

This means that for an average household, customers can pay up to an extra $1,000 in New South Wales, $600 more in South Australia or $500 in Queensland.

“The rule change will limit conditional discounts for both gas and electricity retail offers to reasonable costs,” Taylor said.

“Under the proposed rule change, retailers would also be prevented from hitting customers twice with a late payment fee and withdrawing pay-on-time discount.”

He said the rule change will cut confusion for families and small businesses, and also help them to make informed decisions about their energy plan and usage.

Retail electricity prices have surged 99 per cent since 2009, well above the 28 per cent increase in wages over the same time.

Savvy shoppers can also reduce their energy bill by using one of the switching services provided by the NSW government, Suncorp or Choice.

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