Be wary of energy plan comparison websites

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The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) recently fined iSelect $8.5m for misleading their customers from Nov 2016 to Dec 2018. iSelect falsely claimed it recommended the most suitable plan, based on comparing all plans offered by its retail partners.

Commercial comparison sites such as iSelect are paid a referral fee by a retailer for every new customer steered towards that retailer.

The ACCC said that “about 38% of people who compared electricity plans with iSelect at that time may have found a cheaper plan if they had shopped around or used the government’s comparison site”. 

Commercial arrangements that iSelect had with partner retailers restricted the number of plans those retailers could upload, so the plans iSelect recommended were not necessarily the most suitable or competitive.

The most reliable way to find the cheapest energy deal is to use the independent comparison site – Energy Made Easy run by the Australian Government. Recent upgrades to this site now allow you to enter details of recent usage by either providing your meter details, uploading a recent bill or entering data copied from your paper bill. This enables the site to provide you with an estimate of costs for each of the best energy plans for your particular household (assuming your future usage is similar to that of the billing period you provide).

The advice now incorporates income from the Feed in Tariff (FiT) applied to the energy exported from your solar PV panels. Note however that advice does not take account of the 44 cent additional FiT available for older PV systems installed before 30 Sept 2011 in South Australia.

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