Energy providers survey

Find out which energy providers Kiwis are most satisfied with.

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We surveyed energy customers to find out which providers have the most satisfied customers. Our findings show vulnerable electricity consumers are getting the worst deal.

As the mercury drops this winter and power bills head north, thousands of consumers are likely to have their electricity disconnected. Last year alone, 25,300 households were cut off from the grid because of unpaid electricity bills.

Chances are many will end up as customers of prepay power retailer Globug, the last-resort provider for cash-strapped consumers no one else wants on their books. Not only do these consumers have little choice about where they get their power, they’re also more likely to get bad service.

In our latest satisfaction survey, 42% of Globug customers had been on the receiving end of poor customer service – the worst result of any power company in our past 3 surveys.

Financial difficulties

Globug’s performance stands out from the trend this year, which showed a small rise in customer satisfaction. Overall, 51% of consumers were very satisfied with their power company’s service, up from 45% in 2017.

But while the industry has lifted its game, rising power prices continue to see significant numbers of households, such as those with Globug, struggling to keep the lights on.

Across all consumers, 15% had cut back on heating because of the cost of power. In the past year, 18% had run into financial difficulties paying their bill. Fourteen percent had overdue fees added to their account because they couldn’t pay on time.

Globug customers were significantly more likely to be struggling. More than a third (38%) had cut back on heating because of the cost.

Just over half had experienced financial difficulty paying for power in the past year with 1 in 2 borrowing from friends or family to meet costs. Sixty-four percent had a household income of less than $50,000.

The difficulty of keeping their homes warm was compounded by the fact many lived in uninsulated houses that lacked efficient heating. Fifty percent said their home was difficult to heat during winter.

Power price review

Power prices are finally getting attention as a result of a review commenced by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

Announcing the review in March, Minister Woods acknowledged the increase in power prices had outstripped inflation. “Residential electricity prices have risen by around 50% since 2000 but the price for business has remained flat. We want to find out why that is,” she said.

By international standards, it’s recognised the prices we pay are high. According to research by the International Energy Agency (IEA), residential prices in 2014 were “well above” the average of IEA countries surveyed.

Among the issues the review will consider is whether power prices are efficient, fair and equitable, and whether all consumers have access to affordable electricity.

Our research shows there are major issues for vulnerable consumers getting access to affordable power and decent service. Safeguards are also lacking to ensure consumers on prepay power plans are treated fairly and don’t face disproportionate costs.

We’ll be providing the pricing review with the results of our research.*

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More survey findings

Top-up costs

Globug’s prepay customers aren’t just paying for power. They’re also hit with other costs to top up their meter when they’re out of credit.

  • It costs 75¢ to top up at a retail store. It’s 40¢ by debit or credit card online and 20¢ via internet banking. Account balance texts cost 20¢; by phone, it’s 50¢.
  • If you’ve got credit on your account and want a refund, Globug charges $25 to process the request.
  • There’s a $35 fee to close an account.
  • A $40 fee applies if you ask to switch to another Globug pricing plan, more than once in 12 months.
  • If you sign up to Globug and the property is disconnected, a $120 fee applies to connect the property outside of business hours.
  • Meter installations and inspections cost between $75 and $270.

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