Pride and Passion – too much for the business.

My father used to say – think your mother was a glassmaker? Meaning I cannot see through you. My pride would be hurt. Not because of what was said, but that I did not notice I was in the way and awkward at it too! That said it has parallels for business. Recently we were asked a question – I have done all the necessary steps to get my idea to market, don’t they know how important it is – it could change everything! I even spend $300,000 on IP Lawyers to protect our precious idea from copiers. Still going nowhere, why? Our reply, no worries ‘you’ are the problem. The problem is pride and being too proud and too much unbridled passion in your beliefs. Then our friend said; that is what the other guy said! Adding, they said you are not ready for success and it is very common when ideas get to the point of needing objective assessments and not just hard work. It is at that point where what could go wrong really goes wrong with the next step and it is ‘you’.

If we start with the hard work equation, Co2Land org Posted on July 23, 2014, Waltz with your innovation – 1,2,3 step. From this you will get a good visual on the issues. Then there are the mistakes: Chances are you challenged conventional wisdom – first mistake. Someone else has something to lose. Chances are you have improved a widget – next mistake. It was someone else’s cash cow. Chances are you did not realise you have set a new standard, or at least the potential to change is recognised. This means you are causal to change. Have any of you ever thought that what you cause to change might not like to change?

Then there is the problem of objective assessments and the blockers for it: What you might need to change is your pride! It is that point where your pride will not let you give up; you might want to walk away. But you cannot. It is that point that is too much for good business.

But can you still be proud that at least you give it a go? It is normal behaviour for you to hate to miss the next step for ‘your baby’ to succeed. What you would not like to hear is ‘you’ might better help the company by stepping back for three to four years and it would be good for your company. Why? It is in your mind – you are the best thing for the new company. It is your right in being there for the transition from inventor to innovator to leader. The reality can be different – too much passion to project and not being willing to share the problem.

For further explanation of why, maybe you should step back the following from: Jason Thibeault Sr. Director Marketing Strategy at Limelight Networks; Co-Author of “Recommend This!” on August 13, 2014, wrote: “About a year ago, I had an amazing opportunity to go work for a startup (PokitDok). This startup had everything I could possibly want in an opportunity: a great team, a lead investor who was a personal friend, an amazing mission/vision (which is what really drew me to them). And it was a gut wrenching decision to leave my position at Limelight Networks where, for all intents and purposes, I had an extended family and had just helped pivot the company to new messaging and direction. But I pulled the trigger anyway.

No risk, no reward, right?

Well, four weeks later, I was back at Limelight and wrote this personal reflection because I hope that people can learn from my experience.

The truth about startups

Everyone sees the startup opportunity as a potential lottery win. Sure, there’s the possibility of a windfall financially but for every one that hits it big, there are hundreds, even thousands, that don’t.

There are three things that people don’t quite understand about startups (and that I had forgotten unfortunately after doing a few). First, they are very tight-knit. Even post series-A, PokitDok had 13 people who had all worked together at some point (everyone in the company had a relationship to the two founders). They were already like a family. So there is a lot of intimacy in a startup which, for classic introverts like myself, is very hard to deal with. Second, they move fast. Everyone is doing a lit bit of everything at some point. When work needs to be done and there’s no one who is “responsible” for it, someone picks it up and runs with it (or they acknowledge they will get to it later if it’s not part of the focus). That can be a major cultural shock for someone coming from a public-company environment where roles and responsibilities are fairly well defined. Third, it’s all about focus. There are limited resources (time and money) and in order to be successful enough to garner more investment (or, heaven forbid, revenue) the company has to remain focused on the tasks that lend themselves directly to proving the company’s business model. That can have significant challenges for introverts who are big thinkers and visionaries.

I got broadsided by all three of these issues. As an introvert with an HFA diagnosis (high-functioning autism), I quickly withdrew. It was massive overstimulation. Every meeting, every “huddle up”, every problem I saw, every “lacking” element from the marketing function generated more mental output than I knew what to do with. I couldn’t process it quickly enough. It was overwhelming. Which, of course, led to another problem: I began to get manic. In my introverted mind, I wanted to get the minutiae tackled. I wanted to get all the processes and day-to-day stuff out of the way so that I could concentrate on what I was good at: thinking, pontificating, dreaming, exploring, examining. So I was producing a lot of stuff but not very deeply. I wasn’t very focused. Which is all great for brand and strategic marketing, not so good for day-to-day.

When the shoe drops…

So at the end of 4 weeks the CEO and I agreed that “it wasn’t a fit.”

It’s important to understand the implications of coming to this conclusion. It wasn’t a reflection on my skills or my ability to accomplish my work. It was all about my role (as a senior executive) and the current state/size of the company. In 3 or 4 years? Maybe a different story. They needed to get tactical and operational. I was operating a few levels above that.

Some people might find this a massive blow to their ego. They might not hear the part about “it’s not a reflection of your skill, we still need you to help us.” Only I understand startups and so I applauded the CEO for her ability to make a quick decision. There’s really no way to hide a problem, like someone not fitting or a lack of focus, in a startup. That intimacy exposes everything. And because of that second thing about startups, things moving really fast, someone not fitting can turn into a huge problem that snowballs completely out of control in a matter of weeks (where it might take months or years in a more established company).

Still, I did what anyone would do: I freaked out a little. I just lost my job (despite the consulting opportunity). I had no health benefits. Ruh, roh…

There really is a silver lining

Thankfully, I had left Limelight under great circumstances. I didn’t go to a competitor. I didn’t blast the company over their issues. I didn’t leave angry. In fact, I left sad (and I was actually still consulting with them because I still believe strongly in what they are trying to accomplish; heck, I helped get them there). So I reached out to my former boss (Kirby Wadsworth, with whom I was co-authoring a book for Wiley anyway) and told him what had happened. Long story short, I went back at Limelight for the long-term.

I know that a lot of people are excited by startup opportunities but going into one with eyes wide-open is critical to being successful which is why I impart this one piece of advice: The startup culture (fast, intimate, focused) has to fit with your personality. It’s probably not the best place for a classic introvert unless you are an engineer where it’s expected that you are heads-down in code.

Every experience, no matter how small, changes us

But I also learned a lot about myself. In fact, it gave me a new perspective on my role in helping a business be successful. That new perspective actually empowered me to come up with a role at Limelight (working for Kirby) that is perhaps the most exciting role I could have ever imagined. So what did I learn?

That I’m not a “leader”. That’s not me. Worrying about leading takes away from my ability to do what I do best. When I played hockey, I was a go-to guy because I worked hard. But I was never the captain.

That it’s okay not to be the best at everything. I’ve embraced what I’m really good at: strategy/vision, writing/storytelling, and speaking. Those are my three core strengths. Everything else…no thanks.

That being happy with myself means recognizing #1 and #2.

Would I have liked the startup to work out? Sure. They really have a powerful mission and vision. Yet I also don’t think that I would have had a “life changing” event if it had worked out. I might have continued to believe that I was good at everything, that I was a leader (and deserved the title to go with it), and that I was happy. So in a sense, everything worked out for the best. I got to go back “home” to my extended family (and an exciting new role) while making new relationships with the people at Pokitdok (who are all really awesome people, by the way).

My ultimate advice to everyone? Be truthful to yourself. Accept your weaknesses and embrace your strengths. Don’t try to make strengths out of weaknesses if it’s going to make you miserable trying especially at a startup. Understand that you cannot place anything above your own personal happiness. Because if you aren’t happy, you can’t contribute to other people’s happiness and when it comes down to it, happy environments make for productive employees.”

Well there you go! As long as you experience – you live! You also have reason to be proud, no need to be sorry. Just be cool!

 

 

What hurts more – dealing with energy contracts.

Measures or impacts – what hurts you more when you are dealing with energy contracts as a small, but described as large in National Electricity law, business? What factors affect your decision to enter into the contract? How do you stand up for your rights?

The first rule is do not expect consumer legislation to protect you! You may be surprised that energy regulations even circumvent your rights. For instance: The deemed provisions, and price during the contract period. Then consider the extraordinary fact the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is on record as saying the equivalent of ‘caveat emptor’ – buyer beware is sufficient protection.

In the case of Energy Service Agreement, Retail Energy Agreement or simply Contract for Sale of Electricity (the description referred to by your retailer) you should realise you are without ‘warranty’. You see without a warranty the buyer takes the risk. The supplier or energy retailer takes no risk. In most cases this is true if you are a small (large business).

A series of recent brokering agreements by WIntelboff has highlighted to the client that this risk is critical. Even intervention strategies can be protracted and lack a feeling of satisfaction for the client. Most might even be frustrated because it is costly to fight, and if they qualified for the Ombudsman to investigate there is the risk they will be told ‘no, too difficult’, or the equivalent!

One client has penned her concerns in trying to get a fair contract, and we feel compelled to air them for her:

“On receipt of XXXXXX offer of renewal of electricity supply to the XXXXXXX XXX, the Manager, passed it on to me to “check out” as I had (and am still) involved with researching the power industry and finding ways and means of reducing our power bills.

The initial offer for three years from a numbers point of view looked like a vast improvement on what we are paying for Power from XXXXXX at present.

However on wading through the thirty odd pages of contractual agreement I realised that it was one of the most complex legal documents I had ever had to consider.

I recommended to XXXXX we ask the advice of the ‘crew’ who had been guiding us through installing Solar Power for the Business for two reasons….

They had a greater understanding of the Industry and what affected the retail electricity market…and I was concerned about the solar panel installation and other power reduction strategies affecting the tariff adversely with the 160Mwh factor

My concern that the fine print was mostly one way…to XXXXXX with no real guarantees built in to protect us from penalties..

Bottom line is…

In my personal opinion, XXXXXX’s business methods with this are appalling and amount to business bullying. Expecting a XXXXXXXX (requiring managerial and/or Board Approval) to make a decision with 2 weeks of receiving their renewal…AND…stating that the time could be extended…but didn’t when I requested it …. is tantamount to fraudulent behaviour.”

CO2Land org feels that a truly competitive industry would have adequate consumer protection, and you would expect where it was possible to lose customers you would be concerned about adverse behaviour. You would even expect a civil response to your queries – more than just the family phone message of ‘why we are great people’. Actually, when asking one retailer if it was possible to change a threshold provision – The actual response might surprise you – the 300 MWh pa + customer was told “you are too small a customer to influence us to adjust or amend our contract”!

It gets really scary at this point. They don’t care? Why you might ask. Some speculation could be: They might be selling short in the market. As such they can make more money from ‘double dipping’ than dealing with you. For the long sell retailer they might just offer fantastic prices to fill the books and just raise the prices later. The really scary thing is it is not just the raw energy prices at play here. It can also be environmental charges and some government fee liabilities.  

If you do not believe us – just read your contract very carefully. Some terms and conditions might be expressly stated, and some overtly say you are screwed.

CO2Land org is aware of only one retailer, at this time, that includes an undertaking to not rise prices for the contract with the exception of those mandated by government. Even then, you might be a little nervous when you realise the retailer is government owned! What if they mandate a change? What if they sell to a private company and the condition of sale says you can charge what you like – eh, you are deregulated? But better the bird in the hand as they say. At least if done wrong by Government you can vote them out eventually. Unfortunately, retailers in the mean time might just laugh and say how can you hurt me!

It is disappointing that tactics and marketing are used to make you believe they are doing it for you, when the deal is something else it is their insurance – not yours, and you are the one paying.

Stop Press – small *described as small, should ask for up to 17 % Discount on their bill. But what penalties take it all back again + more – that is for another post. In the mean time just remember to look at what you give up for the illusion of more!

 

No place for flat earth society – Climate change priority one.

The nightmare popped up during sleep time: They dropped the A off UStralia – what happened Anthony? Don’t you know there am no ‘I’ in team! What brought this about? Having just read Peter Costello’s comment before bedtime and having an uneasy feeling from it – in his words:

“Mr Costello believes the Prime Minister has missed the point.

“I don’t know about this Team Australia stuff…..I have heard it used in tourist and trade promotions. But as far as I am concerned, when it comes to stopping terrorism, it is not a matter of getting on the team.”

The rest of the story is found in – Peter Costello criticises PM Tony Abbott’s call to join ‘Team Australia’ By political reporter Karen Barlow, staff – “Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello has hit out again at the Coalition Government’s agenda, following up on a swipe over unpopular budget measures with criticism over the Prime Minister’s call to join “Team Australia”.

The story actually sprung from Peter Costello taking a swipe over another agenda through, “his regular News Corp column to attack Tony Abbott’s decision last week to drop changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Citing the need to engage Australia’s Muslim community on new anti-terror laws, Mr Abbott declared everyone needed to join “Team Australia” and support the Government’s proposed new counterterrorism laws….I want the communities of the country to be our friend, not our critic,” he said. 

Fair enough we say –the fact, we need friends.

But there is a twist – We need a meeting of minds for that to happen. So why would we think two faced or two minds and the characteristics of flux plus spring to mind. Why is he trying to solder the joints and soldier on with falsehoods? Ironically it is climate change that may be the catalyst to foster relationships after all. Yes, Climate Change! Yes, despite Ab bott saying in 2009 that Climate Change is ‘crap’. It seems that to be part of the universal club he now needs to embrace Climate Change.

Actually, CO2Land org predicted this a few months back in a previous blog.

Why do we know it now? From the story: US administration and Tony Abbott have ‘meeting of minds’ on climate change By Peter Hartcher and John Garnaut Aug. 14, 2014:

“The Abbott government has discussed with the Obama administration the subject that was supposed to be unmentionable between them – climate change”.

A senior US official said ”there was a meeting of the minds on the significance of the challenge” when the two countries held their annual Ausmin consultations in Sydney this week.

The subject was not mentioned at the Ausmin news conference on Tuesday.

But Daniel Russel, the senior official for the Asia-Pacific region in the US State Department, was involved in the talks and said the two governments had ”a good discussion of non-traditional security threats, among which is climate change”.

”The conversation was predicated on the reality of global warming,” he said, dismissing any hint that the Abbott government might be in denial on the subject.

”It was not a theological debate. It was an information exchange.”

He described it as ”a very practical, forward-looking conversation” on the matter………. The Barack Obama administration has made climate change a priority.”

“Mr Kerry is especially fervent. In February he said that it was ”the world’s most fearsome” weapon of mass destruction.

He has described sceptics of the science of man-made climate change as members of the ”Flat Earth Society” and said he and Mr Obama had no time for them.”

“Mr Abbott said in 2009 that the science of climate change was ”absolute crap”…… They exchanged views on the upcoming global conferences regarding climate change and they also touched on the relevance to the force posture agreement in the sense that the Asia-Pacific region is home to lot of wonderful things but, unfortunately, it’s also home to the lion’s share of natural disasters, and a significant component of the rationale and the mission for the rotational [US Marine] presence in Darwin … is to increase the region’s ability to respond to natural disasters.”

The head of Australia’s Climate Institute, John Connor, said: ”This government may be waking up to the fact that the heavy hitters in the US and China see climate change as a security issue and an economic issue, not just an environment issue.

The chief of US Pacific Command, Admiral Sam Locklear, has said that climate change could lead to the displacement of millions of people, ”and then security will start to crumble pretty quickly”.

Our turn, we told you so, and if you really want to be on TEAM UStralia you better remember there is no ‘I’ in team. Despite how hubris one may be!

Frailly – the morally weak resistance to Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Frailly might explain the morally weak and the extraordinary resistance of some to climate change and a useful tool in fighting it – renewable energy. You might notice a Minister will flounder and adding insult to injury make confounding and confusing statements, ad hoc, and as the selective audience wants to hear. Authors that have had entrenched positions in the past are now desperate to distant themselves from any association with the evidence they previously exposed. You want some examples?

Adding insult to injury: Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt is on record as not denying cabinet rolled him on climate change. He has since approved the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. What is confusing is that the mine owners may end up with stranded assets, as the world appears to be turning its back on coal for either environmental or economic reasons. How could that happen, aren’t the Indian owners on top of the game? The answer may be they diversify and spread the risks. It may be they are looking at the risks seriously too, and their significant investment in Australia is under Climate Change risk that cannot be ignored. In particular their investment in and the serious threat to Agriculture. Indian Conglomerate, Olam is reported: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-10/agricultural-giant-says-climate-change-absolutely-real/5659058 . Olam International chief executive Sunny Verghese has told Landline that agricultural producers and processors need to take action now.

“It is absolutely a reality that climate change is going to significantly impact agriculture,” he said.

“It impacts it both from the nexus it has with water, and the nexus it has with micro-climate as well, so it is probably the most important driver to future agricultural production, productivity and therefore price.”

Mr Vergese was on the Gold Coast this week to address the 2014 Australian Cotton Conference.

His Singapore-based company has operations in 65 countries, and is the world’s biggest trader in cashews, and the second biggest trader in coffee and cotton.

Olam International has had a presence in Australian since 2007; it owns Queensland cotton, manages 12,000 hectares of almond orchards in Victoria and has investments in the grain, wool and pulse industries.

“Mr Verghese said one of Olam’s initiatives to tackle the impacts of climate change was to reduce water consumption.

We have a target that in our tier one manufacturing and processing facilities we will reduce water usage per tonne of product that we supply by 10 per cent by 2015, and in our farms by 10 per cent by 2020,” he said.

“Similarly we can track the carbon dioxide emission that we generate across all our commodities in each country.

Again we have put some hard targets of how we are going to reduce that carbon emission footprint for every tonne that we supply by 2015 and 2020.

My view is that there is no point if I say I’ve generated half-a-billion after tax earnings, but I’ve depleted $200 million of natural capital from the environment.

Because then I’ve got to question myself, what is the point of all this overwhelming effort if at the end of the day you’ve really depleted the natural capital and left a huge bill to pay for future generations?”

Co2Land org is also aware of Indian companies in Iron Ore and other minerals in Australia and you might conclude they are balancing their portfolio as opposed to placing all the eggs in one basket. But are they also positioning themselves to expect trade-offs from the government? You might say – but hang on the government says no assistance will be given to industry. Then again we know the federal government in particular likes to offer diesel credits and subsidies if they contribute to mining! Those subsidies are significant – like $b’s.

Then there is NSW Planning Minister Prue Goward saying she supports sensible renewable energy, then says she resists approvals of new renewable projects! Also representing the Southern tablelands area of Goulburn district is the Federal MP Angus Taylor. He is on record as saying sun and wind energy should not be increased in the southern tablelands. Which ironically is very well suited in terms of sunshine and wind and infrastructure availability. Then it is reported Angus, when speaking on 2WEB – Bourke – and in the Australian Financial Review, recently said that Solar Energy is an important part of the energy mix in regional Australia. He even called for changes to the regulation of electricity distribution network charges. He essentially followed the Grattan Institutes recent report: “The key here is to look for low cost ways to move towards clean energy…Increasingly we are seeing that solar is likely to be the renewable energy to win the race”. Then comes the contentious bit for the network companies: The advantage of rooftop solar is that it doesn’t need the distribution network, which is …very expensive”. Go figure we say!

Then we have Rod Stokes The NSW Environment Minister advocating we will have a demonstration town in NSW that is to be disconnected from the network grid in 2014. It all sounds back to the future does it not? A time back when many towns were not grid supplied in the past, and local government actually were responsible for power generation too. The issue in those days was, and is now the efficiencies needed for payback. CO2Land org recently looked at a Monaro region town that wanted to go fully solar. Think 30 years paybacks. Why? 105 households and backup infrastructure needed for reliable supply. Maybe just a little premature on that proposal as we are sure technology will advance to better suit but sometime later we think.

What all this leads to is sensitivity and concerns. On the one hand you need to keep your customers happy. On the other networks need to either change how they do business or just keep on encouraging the regulator to actively discourage renewable energy. So what are networks going to do? Even that gets confusing – it seems customers don’t want change either, and some say for example: I left the city for a lifestyle change and I buy from the local businesses and I create jobs because of it. Then some company builds a wind farm nearby, and a solar farm is proposed too. I wont have that! Note the ’we’ is missing here, and the local businesses say that the wind and/or solar farm is good for business and workers come in and buy and people come to see the area’s attractions! Even move perverse is many of the objectors tend to be those that were not offered revenue from the project. Even neighbour against neighbour can occur because one allows a tower or panel on their land for a rent and the other missed out. Get it, like not in my backyard, but if you pay me it is OK? We find it interesting that the tree change types are happy that conventional power station plumes can destroy our fertile areas like the Hunter Valley and they don’t care!

Ok, so the answer is go bush and the Southern Tablelands local MP (Angus Taylor) says Solar is fine – in the bush and networks are expensive – sounds a bit of an oxymoron does it not?

Maybe the whole game is to discourage and to make it too hard, or is it just a ruse to confuse? If you want to be confused even further try reading the Business Spectator article: 7 August 2014, it was said “Finally, and perhaps more important than all the other arguments, future private owners of the networks in NSW and Queensland are likely to welcome asset write-downs, if it’s done before they put their money on the table.” The author does seem to suggest it is a plausible argument to suggest brown paper bags work best to influence an outcome? But, if so – won’t there be an inquiry?

Let us read through that story a little more: Why the power networks are wrong about writedowns,     BRUCE MOUNTAIN , 7 Aug 2014. If we select the key phrases:

“The Energy Networks Association has recently released some modelling that suggests consumers will be worse off if stranded network assets are written off. The gist of its argument is that such revaluations are perceived negatively by investors, who then demand a higher rate of return on their investment to compensate them for the risk.

The ENA’s argument seems fallible in a number of respects. Firstly, we need to question its assumption that networks investors have not already been compensated to bear asset-stranding risk. The regulatory calculation of the return on assets is based on an external ‘benchmark’. It is not based on the firms’ actual cost of equity and debt.

Prospective private investors, governments, consumer advocates, retailers (and the Energy Networks Association) might usefully focus on these questions. Better to get with the times than to try to hold back the tide. “

What concerns Co2land org about all this is the need to concentrate on networks as ’the investment problem’? We can understand that others might not be so convinced that we should merely think of networks being a commodity rather than a service. Even if you think of them as commodities – is it right to say – like the energy market can be fixed of its shortcomings, and then quote UK examples of why the problems will continue? Terribly confusing is it not old chap!

CO2Land org and our partners are prepared to accept that it is not solely the networks at fault. We feel certain parallels could be drawn but not one of the solutions can be directed to one side, we need new ideas to be brought forward and resist drawing parallels that do not exist. 

There may be an argument that it is necessary for chaos to exist in regulation land, so things can sort themselves out. But, that wont happen – too easy, Human nature directs it needs to be complicated!

All that put aside: what the networks need is a model to go forward with, so inevitably some write-downs and disquiet will happen. It will not be the end of networks providing they have strategies to move forward in partnership with renewables. Why else would the politicians being expressing they might change their mind, it cannot be all tactics to disrupt and detract progress – could it! 

 

 

Can you opt out of a contract – energy companies can in AU

Recent articles said energy retailers have all the power when it comes to contracts. Our friend the chook farmer tackled that notion and won. But the really disappointing thing was the retailer was reluctant to apologise, instead they said ‘as a Customer Service gesture xxxxxx have reversed…”. That said another retailer that was caught up in to saga was very generous in the way they handled the matter. You might feel as we do – the later can be recommended to our friends for future Business! The energy user also deserves special praise for the courage to stand up to what we saw as bullying.

Published on 31 July 2014 by the Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/all-power-to-the-energy-companies-when-it-comes-to-adjusting-prices-20140731-zyvp9.html , it was a story that expressly said Electricity companies appear to be able to opt out of contracts. This does fly in the face of what a student might remember as Contract Law 101 – reasonable man, offer acceptance that sort of thing. Well it does seem the energy contract also known as an Energy Supply Agreement (ESA) or Retail Supply Agreement (RSA) is a one way contract – user can be used sort of thing. If the user has limited rights how did chook farmer win when it was stacked against him. It actually had nothing to do with the interference of National Electricity Law (NSW), pressure from the ombudsman or common sense. It was the greed of the energy company itself in that they cooked up a scheme and sent out a letter a couple of years ago saying if you do not reply you will be deemed on contract for 3 years – You better check your agreements chappies, you might be contracted and don’t know it!

The answer to the ‘win’ was the energy company relied on a deemed contract. But, they failed to ensure they had an executed original contract in place. The timeline was in 2012 they said by their conduct they had a contract duly executed from 2009. In 2014 they decided they no longer wanted the customer and allowed the customer to transfer to another retailer. Then retrospectively they wanted a $10k plus penalty payment for an early exit. Where the sneaky weasel went wrong was the energy company did not have an executed 2009 ESA to prove a contract existed in the first place.

Well it seems in Australia and NSW in particular an energy company can write into the contract a clause that overrides contract law. That is a price can be varied at any time the supplier wishes. The example above also highlights another problem – the retailer ignored the pleas for justifying the attempted charges. That is correct they refused to be transparent, and the claimed they had no need to show how they arrived at the numbers. Previously co2land org has written of Rule 72. It does seem the same principle is used in this instance.

We mentioned Ombudsman also, do you know they are member funded by the people you might complain about? This means they do not operate to instigate, they mediate within rules. If the rules are stacked against you, well – use your imagination! Better still read the direct quotes on the industry behaviours from the Canberra Times article: “The industry’s regulator has decided that your power supplier can raise charges whenever it decides, rejecting a plan from a consumer group to force utilities to comply with the terms of a contract.

Electricity suppliers have been accused of seeking to entice new customers by offering attractive deals on two- or even three-year contracts – except the small print gives the supplier an opt-out, the ability to raise prices when it wants.

As a result, a consumer who has shopped around to find a plan that suits them can find the prices have changed even before they receive their first bill.

This prompted the Consumer Action Law Centre, through its arm the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, to seek to have power companies blocked from being able to unilaterally change fees and charges. It went to the industry’s regulator, the Australian Energy Market Commission, asking it to act.

But the regulator decided not to, preferring instead to ask retailers to be upfront about any changes.”

Co2land org would have hoped for increased certainty around the market. The advocate tones of what is needed clearly show the Australian situation needs to change. It seem the strong are protected and the less well prepared to be exploited. How does this fair with the rest of the world? Again quoting the Canberra Times: ”Retailers can manage those risks better than households….They know the market. Instead, all of the risk lies with the household.” The Consumer Action Law Centre spokesperson then said: “The regulator’s decision is at odds with that of regulators in other countries, such as the UK regulator Ofgem, which last year blocked power retailers from raising prices on fixed-term contracts, which are disadvantageous to the customer. Similarly, power companies are prevented from levying termination charges when their fixed-term contracts expire.”

Our final word: If we want so much to copy others good legislation, this UK example is a good place to start and make a difference too!