Energy companies have been warned to better reward customer loyalty, not wait until customers are fed up and are about to leave before discounts are offered.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg on Friday seized on a new report showing only 39 per cent of Australians trust their energy company, down from 50 per cent in 2017.
The Australian Energy Market Commission’s report also revealed Australians feel they get better value for money from banks, phone and internet providers than their power companies.
Mr Frydenberg said he was concerned customers were offered discounts only when they threaten to leave.
“The retailers are rewarding disloyalty instead of the loyalty of their long-term customers,” he said.
He said power companies owed an obligation to their customers and should make their bills and retail offerings simpler, otherwise the government could take further action in terms of regulation.
Major retailers have recently announced small price cuts across Queensland, South Australia and NSW from July 1.
However the federal government believes more pressure could be applied through a National Energy Guarantee, which it is hoped the states and territories will approve in August.
The AEMC said retailers had been slow to act and people were taking things into their own hands by seeking to install solar panels.
“While prices are now flatter or falling, we are disappointed to see retailers are still not doing enough to help their customers,” AEMC chairman John Pierce said.
Almost two million households are using residential solar power sources – a number he expects will continue to rise.
Labor spokesman Mark Butler said the system had shifted too far in favour of companies and away from consumers under the watch of Liberal governments.
“This is a massive vote of no confidence, not only in energy companies, but in the Turnbull government which has attempted to make fixing their energy crisis a priority in the last year,” he said.