Power price deal still short-changes seniors

A deal aimed at delivering cheaper prices to electricity consumers is a step in the right direction – but it doesn’t go far enough, according to National Seniors Australia.

Seven retailers, including AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, yesterday agreed to tell householders how they could get a better deal when their discount period was about to end.

This was aimed at ensuring consumers have the best power deal available.

National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said consumers, including vulnerable older people on low, fixed incomes, would still have to navigate the complexities of offers.

“While the agreement the government has struck with retailers will provide more useful billing information, it does not address the underlying issue facing consumers, which is the proliferation of offers that are confusing and misleading,” Mr Henschke said.

“Given the ACCC has had to deal with misleading information from retailers in the past, can we really trust retailers to tell their customers how to get a better deal?”

Mr Henschke said consumers wanting to reap the benefits of the new requirement would still have to use the Energy Made Easy or another independent comparison website to shop around.

“This neglects the digital literacy challenges many older people still face,” he said.

“The latest Australian Digital Inclusion Index shows people aged 65 and over are Australia’s least digitally-included age group and this ‘age gap’ has been steadily widening since 2015.

“National Seniors believes everyone should have access to a basic, no-frills pricing offer regardless of their retailer.

“Access to a government standing offer would benefit those consumers unable to shop around for a market offer because of limited digital literacy.

“Australia has some of the highest electricity prices in the world. National Seniors continues to question whether deregulation of retail pricing is the answer to this problem.”

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