Energy company abolishes exit fees, cold-calling and door knocking

Updated 12:01pm 1 April 2014: Despite the time and date of publication, this is completely legitimate. We received this announcement from Origin yesterday.


Energy retailer Origin is this week launching a major consumer-facing campaign, including an industry first in abolishing exit fees.

Research the company conducted in partnership with Galaxy shows that 83% of Australian bill payers don’t feel energy and utility providers offer good customer service and that majority of them are also annoyed and frustrated by practices they use.

Now Australia’s largest energy retailer is announcing it will draw a line in the sand and become one of the first in the industry to take action and change the way  it supports, and does business with its customers.

Key changes to Origin’s business include: 

  • A first for the industry in abandoning exit fees (which 53% of Australian bill payers said is annoying),
  • ending door knocking (which 65% of bill payers find annoying) and cold calling to households (59% find annoying),
  • extending call centre hours to 7am – 9pm, and
  • enabling flexible payment options (including bills to be paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly instalments at the customers choice).

 

It’s also calling for customers to voice their concerns. Origin is doing this through direct mail, full-page advertisements in metro and regional newspapers and importantly and rolling out customer service hubs across the nation.

The Galaxy research shows how the energy retail sector falls well behind many other essential services like banks and pharmaceuticals (see data below) in terms of customer satisfaction. Insights from the research include:

 

  • 83% of Australian bill payers don’t feel energy and utility providers offer good customer service falling behind many other industries including the banks, airlines, health and fitness and pharmaceutical companies,
  • nine out of 10 Australian bill payers find many things about energy retailers annoying,
  • top annoying activities include door-to-door sales (65%), cold sales calls (59%) and exit fees (53%),
  • almost 50% of bill payers say there are poor choices available for what is an essential service, and
  • 88% are frustrated when dealing with electricity retailers mostly because of unnecessary fees and charges (61%), hidden fees and charges (55%), and lengthy on hold time (53%).