Hard to fathom those complex energy deals

Tuesday, 12th September, 2017

Seniors may not benefit from power bill savings because of the complex offers.

MANY older people will not benefit from a deal between the government and energy providers aimed at delivering cheaper prices because of confusing and misleading offers and a lack of digital literacy among older people, according to advocacy group National Seniors Australia.

Seven retailers, including AGL Energy, Origin Energy and Energy Australia, have agreed to tell householders how they can get a better deal when their discount period is about to end.

However, National Seniors spokesman 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,” he said.

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

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

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.

“Everyone should have access to a basic, no-frills pricing offer regardless of their retailer,” Mr Henschke said.

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

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