8800 complaints about water, energy bills in Queensland

HIGH bills and billing errors - along with debt collections and disconnections were among the top complaints to Queensland's Energy and Water Ombudsman.

"In total, EWOQ closed over 8800 cases in 2015-16, which is down on previous years", Acting Energy and Water Ombudsman Lyn Stevens said.

"However billing and credit issues continue to top EWOQ's case load, making up more than 70 per cent of all complaints investigated.

"Energy affordability remains a significant issue for many people, with energy and water prices continuing to rise.

"I urge people who are experiencing difficulties in paying their bills to contact their energy or water supplier immediately to discuss payment options and find out ways to keep costs down in the future," Ms Stevens said.

The top five monetary outcomes negotiated by EWOQ were: 419 goodwill gestures ($112,424), 224 billing adjustments ($320,284), 217 payment plans or extensions offered ($84,670), 106 refund cheques ($105,393) and 76 debt waivers ($66,235).

For the cases closed in 2015-16, 7504 related to electricity, 644 related to gas and 560 related to water, the remaining 187 cases were general enquiries or referrals that were not related to any of these issues.

Electricity complaints decreased by 24 per cent this year, while water and gas complaints experienced small changes with water complaints increasing by nine per cent and gas complaints decreasing by 14 per cent.

Queensland energy and water consumers can contact EWOQ for assistance on freecall 1800 OMBUDS (1800 662 837) or visiting www.energywatercomplaints.com.au.

It is important that people give their utility companies the opportunity to resolve the problem first, but if they are not happy with the response, free assistance from EWOQ is readily available.

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