Electricity bills shock South Australians with huge late payment fees

By Kelly Emmerton ·

Aussies living in SA who can’t afford to pay electricity bills on time are struggling with late payment penalties of up to $586 a year, The Advertiser reported recently.

The St Vincent De Paul Society charity’s annual SA Energy Prices report showed that penalties for late payments are only getting steeper - while customer in 2010 paid an average of 5%, or $110 in late payment penalties, customers now are paying on average another 16.5% or $350 in penalties on top of their regular bill.

“Pay-on-time discounts combined with late payment fees, means that South Australian households can be significantly penalised for late payment,’’ said Vinnies spokesman Gavin Dufty. “Or conversely, SA households can be significantly rewarded for prompt payment.’’

But those rewards aren’t reaching the 1 in 4 SA households who are failing to pay their electricity bills on time, who, members in welfare and charity organisations say, are being punished unfairly.

“This highlights an issue that negatively impacts on households with cash flow problems,” Dufty said. “The base rates (for late payment charges) the companies are applying are past their use-by date - like food in the supermarket the industry needs to throw them out and replace with new lower base rates.”

RELATED: Has deregulation led to higher electricity prices in SA, QLD, NSW and VIC?

The highest penalty, made up of a late fee and the deduction of the pay-on-time discount, was $586, although the report noted that there were companies, such as Diamond Energy, Sanctuary Energy and Momentum Energy which charged low or no penalties.

Vinnies found, and Mozo data confirms, that the best deal for South Australian residents was just under $1,800 per year for an electricity consumption of 6,000 kWh. Based on that consumption level, the best offers Vinnies found were:

And Mozo data also adds Origin Energy to the list, with an annual bill of $2,049.

The report also found annual electricity bills had risen by an average of 13% since July 2015, to between $280-$320. Gas prices, on the other hand, have fallen by 10% or $115.

“Electricity bills are a big cost for Aussie families, but also one that many of us tend to pay without thinking too hard about the deal we're getting,” said Mozo Director Kirsty Lamont. “But that could be seriously hurting your bank account. It’s important to shop around for the best price on big, ongoing costs like this.”

So if you’re paying too much on your electricity bill, give Mozo’s electricity comparison tool a whirl and find the best energy plan option based on your location and power use.

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