Media release - originally published 17 December 2019
Queensland’s dispute resolution service for energy and water consumers has been strengthened today with the three-year reappointment of Jane Pires (pron: Perez) as the state’s Energy and Water Ombudsman.
First appointed to the role in December 2016, Ms Pires said she was delighted to continue to provide a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for Queensland energy and water consumers.
“While electricity, gas and water companies in Queensland work hard to resolve any issues that their customers may have, sometimes independent assistance is required,” she said.
“At Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland, we listen to both sides and work towards a fair outcome for residential consumers and small businesses and their energy and water providers.
“Last financial year, we closed 8559 cases, with more than 84 per cent of these about electricity. Half of all complaints closed by our office during this period were about billing, including problems with high bills, estimated bills, billing errors and missing rebates and concessions.
“We also helped to reconnect the power for customers disconnected because of unaffordable payment plans and negotiated a resolution for a family who had been disadvantaged by ongoing estimated bills while they waited for a faulty meter to be replaced.”
Ms Pires said the complex nature of the energy sector coupled with new technologies, new retailers and affordability concerns had resulted in an increase in the complexity of cases handled by her office.
“As a dispute resolution service for energy and water consumers, we are at the frontline in terms of how Queenslanders are coping with rising power bills and complicated energy contracts and discounting arrangements, which can result in complex investigations by my team,” she said.
“We are also working on improving the service we provide to ensure it continues to meet consumer needs and expectations, including developing a new website which will be launched in late 2020 that will make it easier for consumers to lodge a complaint online.”
Ms Pires has more than 25 years’ experience in customer service, management and dispute resolution. In addition to her reappointment as Energy and Water Ombudsman, Ms Pires has also been reappointed as Queensland’s Land Access Ombudsman.
Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland provides a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for Queenslanders who are unable to resolve a problem with their electricity or gas provider and also provides this service for water supply customers in South East Queensland. Visit www.ewoq.com.au or call 1800 662 837 for more information.