At present, the Consumer Care Guidelines are voluntary. 4 options are being considered to update and strengthen them, 2 of which are looking at making parts, or all, of the Guidelines mandatory.
Submissions on this consultation closed on 2 October 2023.
In our response to this consultation, we stated that we would like the Authority to make the Consumer Care Guidelines mandatory, not voluntary. We believe this would deliver the best outcomes for electricity customers, by ensuring a robust consumer protection framework is in place. It would also provide certainty to retailers on their obligations.
We also noted that we would like to see the Authority strengthen the guidelines’ provisions in relation to:
- medically dependent consumers (MDCs)
- prepay electricity
- billing, and
- bonds and fees.
In particular, we would like to see the Authority:
- strengthen prepay protections for MDCs
- expand protections for consumers in energy hardship
- strengthen protections for prepay customers
- require bills to display a 'best plan' message at least every 3 months
- require retailers to pay interest on bonds.
As part of our submission, we included:
- a research report we commissioned, 'Consumer protections in the electricity sector' which assesses the current consumer protections in the electricity sector, and identifies gaps and opportunities to improve them
- our model electricity bill, which shows how power bills in NZ could be presented so they're easier for consumers to understand.