The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Payment assistance for bills

What if you cannot pay on time?

It is your responsibility to pay, on time, for the electricity you’ve consumed or you may face disconnection. If you can’t pay a bill, talk to your retailer as soon as you can. Get help early - this can stop your debt getting bigger and keep your supply connected. You can also authorise a friend or community worker to talk to the retailer on your behalf.

 

Experiencing financial difficulties?

Contact your retailer immediately:

If you are having trouble paying your bill, contact your retailer immediately to find out what assistance they can provide to avoid disconnection. If you wait until you have been disconnected to contact your retailer, you may be required to pay a fee, security deposit and the balance of your bill before supply is restored.

Payment plans:

By law, electricity retailers have to offer payment plans to residential customers with open accounts who need time to pay their bill. If you can’t agree with the retailer about how much you can afford to pay, contact EWOQ.

Hardship policies

All electricity retailers are required to have a hardship policy to help customers in financial difficulty. As part of the policy, most retailers have set up special hardship programs. These programs help customers stay connected and keep on top of their bills. Each retailer has their own eligibility criteria. Contact your retailer to see if you are eligible.

Financial counselling:

A financial counsellor can help you manage a short-term financial crisis and to remain in control of your own financial affairs. They can assist with:

  • Budgeting and organising your finances.
  • Assessing your eligibility for government assistance.
  • Explaining debt recovery, bankruptcy and other alternatives.
  • Referring you to other relevant services (legal aid, personal counselling).

You can find a list of financial counsellors at the Financial Counselling Australia website or contact the National Debt Helpline for assistance.

 

Concessions

If you hold a Queensland Government Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Commonwealth Health Care Card (HCC) or are an asylum seeker, you may be eligible for an electricity rebate. Contact your electricity retailer and your rebate will be credited to your energy account with each bill.

The Electricity Life Support Concession Scheme and the Medical Cooling and Heating Electricity Concession Scheme provide assistance with meeting electricity costs to eligible people. Call the Department of Communities on 13 74 68 for more information.

Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme is a one-off payment to help people experiencing a crisis or unforeseen emergency and cannot pay their electricity bill. On request, electricity retailers will forward an application form to qualifying customers to complete. For more information on the scheme, contact your electricity retailer.

 

What are your payment options?

Most retailers offer customers different ways to pay their bill (e.g. Bpay, direct debit, Centrepay, credit card, or at the post office). However you may be charged for paying a certain way. Check with your retailer.

All electricity retailers offer Centrepay to Centrelink customers. An amount will be deducted from your pension or benefit each fortnight (minimum of $10) by Centrelink and transferred to your electricity account. When you make a fortnightly payment, you still receive a quarterly bill, but only for any amount still owing on your account. Contact Centrelink on 132 300 or your retailer for more information.

 

Reminder notices and shortened collection cycles

If you have been sent reminder notices or disconnection warnings for non-payment of two bills in a row, then your retailer may place you on a shortened collection cycle. This means that you will not receive reminder notices for future unpaid bills, but will instead receive a disconnection notice without a further reminder. If you do not make payment by the due date on the disconnection notice, your electricity or gas may be disconnected. Your retailer must advise you if they are going to place you on a shortened collection cycle and you will have to pay three bills in a row by the due date in order to be returned to a regular collection cycle.

 

Default listings

When can an overdue account be listed as a default on your credit report?

A default can be listed on your credit file when you are 60 days overdue in making a payment on your account, and the amount overdue is $150 or more.

A default listing will impact upon your ability to obtain credit for financial, telecommunications and energy services in the future. It will remain on your credit file for a minimum of five years, irrespective of whether you make a part or full payment to settle the debt at a later date.

How will you be notified before a default is listed on your credit report?

Prior to listing a default, your energy provider must issue you with two written notices to your last known address. This can be your physical residence or an email address.

These notices are:

  1. An overdue notice, informing you of the total balance overdue. This can be issued as soon as the payment is overdue; and
  2. A notice of intent to default if you do not pay the overdue amount by the revised due date; and this must be issued at least 30 days after the first notice.

Your provider must wait at least 14 days after the date of issue of the second notice before disclosing the default details to a Credit Reporting Body (CRB). This 14 day period provides you with one final opportunity to pay the overdue balance.

If your contact details change for any reason it is your responsibility to provide your updated details to your provider to ensure that you receive all future correspondence.

How long does a Retailer have to list the default after the notices have been sent?

A default cannot be listed within 14 days of the date on the notice of intent to default. Additionally, your energy provider must disclose the default details to a CRB within 90 days of that same letter.

If you pay the debt in full or if the amount due falls below $150 due to any payments you may have made prior to the default being disclosed to a CRB, your provider is prohibited from listing the default.

What amount will be listed on your credit report?

The amount that will be listed on your credit report as a default must not be more than the amount that has been advised in the notice of intention to default, minus any payments that you have made. This amount can also include any interest or fees that may have accrued due to the payment becoming overdue.

What happens if you pay the overdue account after it has been default listed on your credit report?

When an overdue payment has been disclosed to a CRB and listed as a default on your credit report, it cannot be changed or removed to reflect any payments that you may have made since. If you make full or partial payment to settle the debt the status of the default will subsequently be updated to reflect that it has been paid.

The default will remain on your credit file for a minimum period of five years from the date that it was listed. Information contained within your credit report will also advise of the removal date.

What can you do if you dispute a default listing on your credit report?

There are three stages to making a complaint about information contained within your credit report:

You are first required to raise a dispute with your energy provider, and allow a reasonable opportunity for the matter to be resolved.

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your dispute, you may submit a complaint to EWOQ.

If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome you may make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

How you can receive a copy of your credit file

You can access a free copy of your credit file once every 12 months from any of the following CRBs:

The CRB must provide you with free access to your credit file with 10 business days of your request; however, you may be charged a fee if you require the information sooner.