Mercury Energy is ''ripping off'' customers and trying to
''bribe'' back disgruntled customers, a Dunedin woman says.
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Mercury
Energy supplied electricity to the small Dunedin business
where she works until its two-year contract with the power
company was due for renewal.
Mercury Energy emailed her that the contract would
automatically renew and the price of electricity would
increase so she researched other companies and decided to
switch to Contact.
When Mercury Energy became aware of the impending switch it
offered her a lower rate and a $200 ''good will'' credit.
The new rate was more expensive than Contact Energy and she
declined the offer.
''I'm sick of electricity companies playing games. They
should have offered me the better rate in the first place.''
Mercury Energy emailed her again and offered her a $500
credit and the same, lower rate.
The small business had paid its bills promptly and she was
insulted Mercury had raised the price and then lowered it and
tried to ''bribe'' her with a credit.
Electricity companies were ''ripping off'' customers with
inflated electricity prices, she said.
A Mercury Energy spokeswoman said small business customers
consumed about five times more electricity than residential
customers and were offered larger credits than residential
Offers and discounts are a sign of a highly competitive
market at work and ultimately that's good news, that
companies are competing vigorously for customers.
Mercury Energy reviewed its rates annually, she said.
Electricity Authority chief executive Carl Hansen said it was
increasingly common for power companies to offer discounts
and credits to retain customers.
Power companies were not overcharging customers, he said.
''The evidence we have is that the strong competition in the
electricity market is forcing retailers to absorb cost
increases, rather than pass these fully on to their
Authority analysis revealed the costs incurred by electricity
retailers over the past three years increased 21.5% and the
rates charged to customers in the same period increased
''Retailers have absorbed an estimated $190 million of costs
since late 2010.''
Customers should shop around, he said.
''Shopping around doesn't always mean switching. Sometimes,
it is very valuable to have a chat with your current power
company and make sure that you are getting the best deal.''