NZ Power Providers To Suggest Cheaper Alternatives, Based On New Consumer Care Guidelines

Date Mar 31, 2021
Blog category Power
By Khristine Eusebio
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Starting July, power providers in New Zealand will be discouraged by the Electricity Authority from charging some customers more than others for the same service, under the new Consumer Care Guidelines. The new guidelines released by the Electricity Authority encourage retailers to improve their services to all domestic consumers.

What are the current consumer care guidelines in NZ?

According to the Electricity Authority (EA), the newly published consumer care guidelines will replace/update the following:

  • The Guideline on arrangements to assist vulnerable consumers
  • The Guideline on arrangements to help medically dependent consumers
  • The Addendum to the medically dependent consumer guidelines and the vulnerable consumer guidelines

What are the proposed power guidelines in NZ?

The proposed consumer care guidelines will replace the current guidelines to push retailers to assist medically dependent and vulnerable consumers. 

Under these new guidelines, retailers are expected to be more transparent with their customers and coordinate with them, so they get access to affordable electricity based on their needs and budget. Retailers are also required to give details on the support available if they experience financial problems and payment difficulties.

In cooperation with electricity retailers, distributors, consumer representative groups, scholars working on energy poverty, government, and support agencies, Electricity Authority gathered as much input as possible to improve electricity consumers' current guidelines.

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Some of the requirements and provisions included in the consumer care guidelines are the following:

  • Electricity retailers are required to publish a consumer policy.
  • Retailers must create a page on their website that "informs customers and consumers of the existence of their consumer care policy" and/or provides a link that directs consumers to their consumer care policy document.
  • Retailers must review and update their consumer care policy at least every two years.
  • Retailers must have and use processes and systems to request, record, allow them to access, and ensure that they use the information on customers' communication and invoicing preferences and information related to a customer's potential to experience payment difficulties and/or difficulty accessing electricity.
  • Retailers must maintain their customers' privacy.
  • Retailers are required to make information accessible to help consumers signing up (or considering doing so) make informed decisions.
  • Retailers must provide potential customers with a range of electricity supply plans and help them understand which of their products and services works best based on their needs.
  • Retailers should make sure that new customers have read and reviewed the terms and conditions
  • Retailers hesitating to enter a customer contract with any person enquiring because of the retailer's poor credit must consider all relevant information and not just the person's credit record.
  • If a customer enquires about switching to a different plan, retailers must make sure the customer is aware of all the pricing plans and payment options they offer and provide help to the customer to make sure they get what works best for them.

You can access and read the complete consumer care guidelines on the EA website.

How will consumer guidelines affect power providers in NZ?

While retailers are doing a good job at giving services to their customers and complying with their responsibilities, EA recognises that there's always room for improvement. They have been working together for years to give the best to the consumers. The existing retailer guidelines to assist medically dependent and vulnerable consumers have served consumers well.

Still, with so many changes in the electricity industry and consumer needs, the policies have to adapt and adjust eventually. The alignment with the consumer care guidelines is voluntary, but the Electricity Authority expects that all retailers will comply and work on their current processes to meet the new guidelines.

The guidelines shall take effect on July 01, 2021, and retailers are expected to comply with them fully by December 31, 2021.

While this new consumer care guideline is good news for electricity consumers as it will help them make better decisions when getting a power plan or switching to a new one, there are also other options and tools that you can use to make sure you're getting the best power deals for your household. One of these is comparison websites for utilities. What's great about these comparison websites is that aside from helping you find the power deal that suits your budget and needs or power plans that you aren't aware of, they also provide assistance to make the process easier for you.

Compare and see the best Power offers in just a few minutes, right here at glimp

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