Energy and Water Ombudsman Says 18 Percent Reduction in Complaints About Water and Energy Problems Should Be Taken With Caution | The mail

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VICTORIA’s Water and Energy Ombudsman (EWOV) said an 18% reduction in complaints about water and energy issues should be taken with caution given the pandemic and the number of people who accessed increased government payments in the past 18 months. While high bills continue to be the main complaint received by EWOV, the total number of cases fell to 19,542 during the 2020-2021 reference period, an 18% reduction from the previous year. . Specifically in Ballarat, complaints about high bills fell by 57%, disconnection cases fell by 18%, collection cases fell by 31% and difficulty with payment issues fell by 35%. Figures were also released for Hepburn and Pyrenees counties, with those regions also showing declines. But lower populations mean lower total numbers in those regions and should be taken with a grain of salt. IN OTHER NEWS: For example, a 50% reduction in bill complaints at Hepburn is actually six complaints to three, so an actual figure of those doing it hard is less likely. However, EWOV said the downward trend statewide – while potentially showing greater attention to provider services and support – was more likely due to increased government payments such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper that allowed people to survive during the early days of the pandemic. Ombudsman Cynthia Gebert said as these titles are no longer available or have been reduced, it is possible that complaints will increase again in the next reporting period. “Predicting increases or decreases in the total number of cases is proving difficult in the COVID-19 environment – community responses, government support, regulatory responses – all of this has changed dramatically over the past year,” she declared. “And after a downward trend in the second half of 2020, our cases generally increased in the first half of 2021 – especially billing cases.” In the EWOV annual report, the Ombudsman points out a 35% drop in cases over the 12-month reference period. “The decline in cases concerning credit issues – payment difficulties, disconnection, debt collection – has been more sustained,” said the Ombudsman. , since the start of 2021, we have also seen cases of impending electricity and gas disconnection increase. “ The challenge for companies now is to figure out how to maintain a more compassionate approach and to integrate this approach into their corporate culture and practices. ”

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