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How to cancel your electricity or gas contract in 3 steps

Moving house? Fed up with your existing provider? Here's how to cancel your energy contract.

How to cancel your electricity or gas contract Learn how
When should you switch energy retailers? Find out here

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Cancelling your current energy contract is a pretty straightforward process, but there are a few things to keep an eye out for.

This guide will take you through how to cancel, how to switch plans and what you need to know before cancelling.

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How to cancel your electricity or gas contract

To cancel your contract, it's simple:

  1. Contact your energy retailer. You can either do this over the phone or online.
  2. Provide the right information. For example, you'll need your account number and proof of identification.
  3. Pay an exit fee and any outstanding bills. Note: there may be a delay before the final bill comes in.

How to switch energy retailers

If you want to switch your energy retailer, simply contact your new provider and apply for the new plan. The new retailer will take care of the handover.

Here is what the steps usually look like:

  1. Give your metering info (NMI) to your new retailer.
  2. They make the switch for you.
  3. You get a cooling-off period in case you change your mind.

Note: You can find your NMI on your bill or you can ask your existing retailer.

Reconnecting to your existing retailer at a new address

If you're moving houses, but you plan on staying with your current retailer, don't cancel your plan straight away. Let your provider know (either over the phone or online) that you're moving.

You'll likely be able to organise a disconnection and reconnection. However, there may be some fees involved.

Have these details ready to go for your retailer:

  • Your new address
  • The date you need to get reconnected
  • Your contact number and a form of ID

Fees to look out for

Exit fees (if you are still under contract)

Early exit fees may apply to electricity and gas customers who sign a contract for a set length of time and decide to leave before that period ends.

  • Who charges exit fees? Fewer electricity retailers charge early exit fees these days since many energy contracts are offered on a no-lock-in, month-to-month basis.
Go further: You can call and speak to your retailer to find out if your contract has any early termination fees. How much the fee is typically varies depending on how long you have left on your contract. Contracts usually vary from six months to two years for residential and business customers.

Disconnection fees

Unlike early exit fees, disconnection fees are charged by your energy distributor, not your energy retailer. Energy distributors supply the electricity and sell it to your retailer, who in turn sells it to you. When you cancel your service, the distributor may charge your energy retailer a disconnection fee. This fee will then be passed on to you.

  • Why am I charged a disconnection fee? Disconnection fees cover the cost of checking your energy meter outside of the typical schedule.
Less fees with a smart meter: If you have a smart meter, your retailer will be able to do this as soon as your contract is cancelled for a small fee. On the other hand, if you have a traditional meter, the company will need to send someone out to your property to read the meter, which can cost up to $100 or more.

Know your rights

When switching electricity plans, remember that you have a number of rights as a customer:

  • Cooling-off period. All energy plans have a cooling-off period, in which you can back out of the plan with no penalty. New regulations state that the cooling-off period must be at least 10 days long.
  • Be explicit. Make sure that when you ring up to enquire about a new energy plan, the retailer doesn't switch you over without your consent. They may take your interest as a desire to buy the plan.
  • Don't get pestered. If you don't want to be bothered by telemarketers trying to sell you energy plans, you can sign up to the Australian Government's Do Not Call register.

Can your new retailer raise the price mid-contract?

This depends on what type of contract you have. The majority of energy plans are "variable rate", which means that usage rates can change at any time over the course of your plan, though your provider is required to give you some advance notice.

If you are on a "fixed rate" plan, where your usage and supply rates are frozen for a certain period of time (usually the first 12 months of your contract), your provider won't be able to vary the rates until the fixed rate period has finished.

Misconceptions

People sometimes get the wrong idea about what's involved in switching from one retailer to another, and it can convince them to keep paying too much for a bad energy plan. Here are three common misconceptions:

  • You'll lose power when you switch. When you switch retailers, you won't lose power or gas during the handover for any period of time. This is because energy retailers are only responsible for the financial aspect of energy. You aren't switching distributors, or whoever is actually supplying energy to your property.
  • Switching costs money. Simply switching from one energy plan to another is completely free. The only time you could be charged is if you're on a lock-in contract with an early exit fee associated with it.
  • You'll need new equipment. In most cases, your new energy retailer will be able to use the exact same equipment as your old one. The main exception to this is that some plans, especially if you have solar installed, will require a smart meter for energy monitoring if you don't have one already.

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