What's My Number
What's My Number is a campaign developed to provide consumers with information about the ability to switch power companies, the ease of switching, and the potential savings consumers can make on their power bills by switching.
The campaign encourages New Zealanders to shop around for power.
The campaign includes this website, which allows consumers to see how much they may be able to save on their power bills by switching retailers. A simple calculator, provided by Consumer Powerswitch, helps consumers assess their potential savings. Users can then click through to the Consumer Powerswitch website to allow them to see details of the different offers available and decide whether to switch.
Consumer switching encourages retailers to become more competitive. What's My Number and Consumer Powerswitch are about consumers having power at competitive prices.
The Electricity Authority is working in partnership with Consumer Affairs and Consumer New Zealand to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach in delivering the campaign.
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
If you are having difficulty with either of these sites, then our programme partner Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can help you.
CAB in New Zealand is an independent community organisation that provides a free and confidential service to help all people to access and navigate through information when they have an issue or problem and need to find out what their rights and options are.
Click here to find your local CAB
What's My Number is the central programme activity of the Consumer Switching Fund (fund). The fund is $5m per year over 3-and-a-half years, and is designed to be used to promote to consumers the benefits of comparing and switching electricity retailers and to improve the capability of the Consumer Powerswitch website. It was established by the Government after its 2009 Ministerial Review of the New Zealand Electricity Sector with the cost being met from the levy on electricity retailers. Specifically, the fund allows for:
- $3.5 million per year administered by the Electricity Authority (Authority) to develop and administer cost-effective programmes to facilitate and promote to consumers the benefits of comparing and switching retailers; and
- $1.5 million per year administered by Consumer Affairs (CA) to upgrade and promote the Consumer Powerswitch website.
The fund's purpose is to increase retail competition by creating more informed and active electricity consumers and increasing their propensity to switch. This is being achieved by promoting to consumers the benefits of comparing and switching electricity retailers, with the What's My Number campaign as the primary vehicle.
Customers' propensity to switch will increase as they become more prepared and adept to shopping around amongst electricity retailers and look for competing offers. In turn, increased customer switching puts pressure on retailers to ensure they always price competitively for their level of service and product or risk losing customers.
The fund was prompted by the fact that the inclination among consumers to change retailers was low. Surveys conducted in 2011, prior to the campaign, showed only 5% of eligible New Zealanders were actively looking at switching electricity providers, but 50% said they would switch if approached with a better deal. The survey findings along with customer behaviour showed that the market was characterised by customer 'stickiness', with most Kiwis remaining unengaged and electing to stay with the default retailer that supplied their region after the deregulation of the electricity market in 1999.
This 'stickiness' remained, despite great improvements in the ease of switching, including faster timeframes and the availability of comparison tools such as Consumer Powerswitch. Saving on electricity was not a priority for consumers and there tended to be a belief, borne out in the surveys, that all power companies were the same.
Generally, customer 'stickiness' means that dominant retailers can charge prices that are above other competitive offers without losing significant market share. Based on pricing and consumption data, in 2010, the average household could have saved $150 per year by switching electricity retailer, and collectively this equated to New Zealand households annually paying $240 million more than they needed to for their electricity.
In 2011 the average household savings by switching electricity retailer was estimated at $175 per year, and collectively this equated to New Zealand households annually paying $280 million more than they needed to for their electricity.
The Authority has since estimated that for the 2012 calendar year the average annual household saving available to consumer households by switching to the cheapest retailer in their region is $175.
The national savings total that could be achieved if all consumers were to switch to the cheapest retailer in their region is $295 million.
For more details on how these figures have been calculated, click here.
For more information on the Authority's activity to support consumers and the Consumer Switching Fund, click here
What's My Number's numbers
The total annual savings number $295 million is the savings available if all residential consumers (consumers) switched from their own electricity supplier to the cheapest supplier in their region in each month of the 2012. The average savings available of $175 per household is calculated by dividing the total savings by the number of consumers.
The analysis takes into account:
- all consumers (source: retailers and registry);
- the average monthly residential consumption within each region (source: retailers);
- each consumer's electricity supplier, including any changes (source: retailers and registry);
- standard pricing plans for each retailer in each region and any price changes (source: Consumer Powerswitch tariff database).
The $175 is a measure of the average amount residential consumers paid above the cheapest plan available from a retailer in their region during 2012. This analysis does not take into account how retailers might respond in 2013 if significant switching occurs.
The savings figures for each of the characters' in our advertising are based on real individuals' actual potential savings calculated by the Consumer Powerswitch website and/or results form the quick calculator on the What's My Number website.
The identified potential savings figure contained with the website 'counter'
The 'counter' on the website details the number of times the website calculator has been used and the sum of all calculations made. This may be different from the actual savings achieved as a result of switching. This is a dynamic number and will change over the life of the website. The 'counter' includes all calculations from the calculator, including if a user enters details into the calculator on more than one occasion.
The Electricity Authority encourages consumers to regularly check their potential savings number.
To see our "What's My Number" launch TV advertisement, click here
Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner
The Electricity and Gas Complaints Commissioner (EGCC) provides a free, independent dispute resolution service for consumers having difficulties with their electricity and gas suppliers.
EGCC offers an independent resolution service for complaints that consumers may have about member electricity retail and line companies, once the complaint has reached a deadlock. EGCC can also handle complaints about member gas companies.