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Powell Media Release – Check your power bills and know your rights (15 May 2013)

Queensland energy and water consumers have been encouraged to go to the Ombudsman when they have urgent questions or need advice in relation to their bills.

However, before contacting the Ombudsman, Andrew Powell MP, Member for Glass House urged Queenslanders to read their bills first, discuss concerns with their retailer and remember there are dispute resolution services like the EWOQ, as well as community service groups to assist those on lower incomes manage their cost of living.

The Ombudsman was first established in 2007 to provide advice for customer disputes with water retailers in south east Queensland and disputes with all electricity suppliers across the State.

“In the last 5 years the EWOQ provided direct assistance to more than 60,000 Queenslanders, and more than 6,000 cases were received and closed in the first half of 2012-2013,” Mr Powell said.

“In 2012, the Energy and Water Ombudsman negotiated 381 billing adjustments, 31 compensation claims, the waiving of 107 debts, 770 goodwill gestures, 71 reimbursements and14 guaranteed service level payments which is more than $600,000 worth of value to Queenslanders.”

Energy and Water Ombudsman Forbes Smith said his office provides a free service to Queensland consumers with a timely, effective, independent and just way of resolving disputes.

“We can also help them to understand their rights and obligations in what can be quite a complex business, at no cost to the consumer,” Mr Smith said.

“The Newman Government is conducting critical reforms to reduce the cost of poles and wires, curb back the impact of the Solar Bonus Scheme on bills and has a strong stance against the Carbon Tax, but it is also vital that customers are aware and empowered about what is going on to their power bills,” Mr Powell said.

“If you need help with your power bills there are options available whether it be talking to a friend, a relative, a neighbour or coming by to my office where my team and I would be more than happy to help.

“For low income earners there are community groups that can come by and help you manage your electricity bills, with a national helpline as a directory for all queries.”

Customers can contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland on 1800 662 837 and the HESS national helpline on 1800 007 001 to receive assistance.

[ENDS] 15 May 2013

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