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Customers
Sustainability Performance Report 2012 29
Customer experience
AGL’s responsibilities as an essential
service provider
The essential nature of the services and products
provided by AGL requires a responsible approach to
disconnection; sales and marketing; and accessibility
of information, including the availability of concessions.
Wrongful disconnections
In all of the jurisdictions in which AGL retails energy, there are
regulations governing the processes which must be followed when
disconnecting a customer for non-payment of an account. In
Victoria, energy legislation prohibits disconnection of residential
customers other than in accordance with regulations, and retailers
are required to pay customers $250 per day for every day they
are off supply after having been wrongfully disconnected. In
Queensland, in the event of a wrongful disconnection, AGL pays
a one-off GSL (Guaranteed Service Level) payment of $130 to
Energex (the distributor) and the customer is redirected to claim
that amount from Energex. In New South Wales and South Australia,
there are no payment amounts stipulated in the regulations –
accordingly, we compensate customers on a fair and reasonable
basis for any loss of food, costs of alternative accommodation and/
or damage to electrical appliances, based on receipts produced.
In FY2012, out of a total of 596 complaints concerning a potential
wrongful disconnection in either Victoria or Queensland, after
investigation, AGL made wrongful disconnection payments to
170 customers in Victoria, an increase of 18% compared to 144
customers in FY2011. Seventy-six customers were found to have
been wrongfully disconnected in Queensland.
Analysis has identified the following major causes of wrongful
disconnections:
>> customer showed signs of hardship or payment difficulty but it
appears that they were not given the full assistance required by
the regulations prior to disconnection
>> notifications for disconnection were not sent within the required
regulatory time frames, often due to the fact that AGL had not
updated the correct mailing and/or service address details for
the customer.
In November 2011, AGL formally commenced data collection on
the number of wrongful disconnections in South Australia and New
South Wales. A weekly and monthly report is uploaded onto the AGL
intranet so that the business is aware of performance levels and can
focus on areas requiring improvement. In NSW, between November
2011 to June 2012, we disconnected 26 customers in error. During
the same period in South Australia, we disconnected 21 customers
in error.
AGL remains committed to ensuring it fulfils all regulatory
obligations, undertaking disconnection of a customer’s supply
as an absolute last resort. However, it is clear that there is room
for improvement and we are continuing to investigate areas of
non-compliance. One area which we aim to improve is the quality
of customer contact notes taken by Customer Service Centre
representatives during their conversations with customers. In
some instances, notes do not provide adequate detail as to what
assistance the customer was offered in response to their payment
difficulty, and in the absence of such documentation, it is difficult
to prove that the appropriate assistance was offered.
Responsible sales and marketing
In FY2012, AGL has continued to build on the work that was
commenced in recent years aimed at improving performance
in field sales.
A key advancement in FY2012 has been the introduction of the
industry Code of Conduct (the Code) for face-to-face marketing
of energy contracts, which is independently managed by
Energy Assured Limited (EAL). As communicated in the FY2011
sustainability report, the Code was developed by the Energy
Retailers’ Association of Australia (of which AGL is a member)
in response to community concerns about door to door sales.
The aim of the Code is to introduce a base level of standardised
training to door to door sales agents and to help increase consumer
confidence in door to doors sales as a marketing channel. The Code
sits alongside a suite of other regulatory and legislative measures
which cover door to door marketing activities.
In preparation for its formal launch of EAL in January 2012, all
field sales agents were required to undergo refresher training to
ensure that they met with all requirements of the EAL and broader
regulatory and legislative requirements.
Wrongful disconnections (Victoria only)
144
144
59
FY09
FY10
FY11
170
FY12
Legend
Number of wrongful
disconnections in Victoria,
for both gas and electricity
accounts.