Dunsford, a man with a keen eye for detail, parsed the letter with scepticism. He knew he had previously locked in a 12 per cent discount on his electricity charges and 8 per cent off gas charges until his two-year contract ran out. The letter from Energy Australia offered 4 per cent off both under a new one-year contract.
So he got on the phone - braved the automated voice menus, the musak and the friendly marketing messages - and eventually got to speak with a human being.
''When I protested, I was offered 15 per cent off electricity and 12 per cent off gas under a two-year contract,'' Dunsford says. Had he accepted the ''new offer'' contained in the letter, he would have been $600 a year worse off.
Dunsford then wrote back to the EA executive David Hamilton, saying the offer was ''highly deceptive and misleading conduct'' and demanded an explanation.
The lesson is that customers are likely to lose if they do nothing. Price deregulation is already in place in Victoria and South Australia. In NSW it comes into effect on July 1, hence the flurry of correspondence from companies.
Dunsford's experience is mirrored by research from Choice: ''If you haven't reviewed your energy plan recently, the chances are you are paying too much.''
And now, the profits of the industry hinge on hoping customers get the worst deal possible by doing nothing.
In fairness to Energy Australia, all retailers are hoping for the same outcome: zero action from customers.
comments suggest that 15-16% off electricity and 10-15% off gas is possible with no contract - but of course the key question is off what base prices…