FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Got questions? Bill Hero has answers

How does the Savings Guarantee work?

Bill Hero is a paid subscription service, but the initial transaction to get started is a pre-authorisation, not a payment. Our Savings Guarantee means that we'll only process your payment and activate your subscription if we can find more savings on your first switch than the Savings Guarantee.

If you're already on a competitive plan, or if the market has moved to more expensive rates since your last switch, then it's possible we might not be able to beat the Savings Guarantee. If that happens for you, then we'll notify you that your subscription has not been activated, and your pre-authorised payment will not be processed.

How do you calculate my savings?

We use the detailed data from your bill to calculate what you would have paid for that same  usage with the same tariff type over an equivalent time period under all the relevant publicly available plans on the market. We include tariff type, solar feed-in, guaranteed & conditional discounts, and incentives.

Savings are expressed as an annualised amount by applying the savings found for the billing period pro-rata over a full year. For example, if Bill Hero finds $10 savings in a single monthly bill, this will be expressed as $120 annualised savings.

How are you different from comparison sites?

Bill Hero is a Savings Service, not a comparison site.

Comparison sites make money by taking commissions from retailers, which means they're working for them, not for you. They don't really compare the market, and you or I can never really select the best deal, because their incentive is to sell you into any plan that will generate a commission, not to find the plan that is best for you.

Also, comparison sites are one-time only, so you need to keep going back to review your plan. Retailers know that many people find this too hard, so they ratchet up their prices over time.

Bill Hero is different. We don’t seek or accept commissions from retailers. Ever. We're funded solely by subscribers like you, which means our only incentive is to keep you happy by making sure you're always on the best deal. We know exactly who we're working for.

Bill Hero is at your service.

What about fees?

In the bad old days, energy plans often had fixed duration, and there would often be fees for early contract exit. Today there is regulation in pace that limits retailers ability to charge exit fees, so much so that none of them even try to charge exit fees any more.

Retailers do list 'disconnection' and 'reconnection' fees. These fees apply only to physical disconnection or reconnection of power from the property, which might be required if you're moving or for construction work. When you're switching retailers at the same address, your power is not disconnected at all, and there is no disconnect or reconnect fee whatsoever.

So you can use Bill Hero with confidence that your savings will not be eroded through exit fees.

What about the government comparison sites?

The government comparison sites do cover all the publicly available plans, just like Bill Hero does. But they are complicated to use, you've got to do all the work yourself and then make the switch on your own. And you need to keep going back again and again if you want to make sure you stay on a competitive plan.

Bill Hero is a full service offering that does all the comparison and ranking work for you, helps you switch, and then monitors your bills to keep switching you whenever you can save more.

How do you rank my bill?

We calculate what you would have been charged under every relevant publicly available plan vs what you were charged on your current bill. It's very illuminating to see where your bill lands in the lineup.

What is Seamless Switching?

Bill Hero works hard to make it as easy as possible for you to switch to your chosen retailer and plan. With many retailers, we have established processes where Bill Hero collects all the required information, and delivers this to your chosen retailer for them to proceed with processing your order. We call this Seamless Switching.

Not all retailers support Bill Hero Seamless Switching yet, so we may ask you to sign yourself up using the standard online signup process for your chosen retailer. If we do, we'll provide you with a unique Bill Hero email address to be used as your billing and correspondence address. All bills and account correspondence sent to your unique Bill Hero address will be auto-forwarded to your personal address.

No matter if your switch was Seamless or manual, Bill Hero will monitor every bill you receive and will report back to you on each one, initiating another switch every time we find potential savings above your personal Bothered Threshold.

Why do I need to keep switching?

Retailers have traditionally used a pricing strategy that we call 'tease and squeeze'. They lure new customers in with seemingly great prices and discounts, and then ratchet the prices up over time, sometimes very quickly.

From Q1 2020, wholesale prices are declining, which is great news for consumers as long as the retailers actually pass on those price decreases. The problem for everyday consumers now is that you need to keep an eye on things to make sure you get the benefit of the price drops, not just your retailer.

No matter if prices are going up or down, just comparing once is not enough. There is no such thing as set and forget for energy pricing. You need to stay on top of it all the time, which is boring and hard, or you need Bill Hero to stay on top of it for you.

How long does it take to switch?

It depends... Retailers will review your application before they send a welcome pack, which is the first step toward switching. This usually takes a few days, but there is no fixed time frame to complete this. Some retailers may make a credit check as part of this process.

Your new retailer will then send you a Welcome Pack confirming the detailed information for the plan you're switching to, and any additional steps that may be required - for example it may be necessary to complete a direct debit arrangement for some plans.

Under the retail energy regulations there is then a minimum 10 business day cooling-off period from the time of delivery of the welcome pack before your new retailer can initiate the transfer of your meter to them.

The transfer process requires a final meter reading to be performed so your old retailer can close off your account, and the new retailer can start.  If you have a smart meter, this can be done pretty much immediately. If you have a manually-read meter, then a final reading must be conducted. Sometimes a special meter reading can be organised, or may be offered by you new retailer, otherwise this has to wait until your next scheduled meter read and billing cycle, which might be weeks or even months away, depending on the length of your billing cycle.

When does my subscription begin?

The switching process can take some time, depending on your location and meter type. The good news is that the clock does not start ticking on your 12 month Bill Hero subscription until the day your first switch is complete and your new plan with your new retailer begins, no matter when you actually signed up to Bill Hero. Whatever time it takes to complete your first switch is not deducted from your subscription period.

What if my current retailer makes a retention offer?

It's common that when a customer switches, the retailer makes a special discount offer to try and retain them. You've got to wonder why they wait till you're leaving before they offer you a better deal!

If they do make a retention offer, just forward it to Hello@BillHero.com.au, and we'll compare it to the rest of the market and let you know if it's worth accepting.

What about solar?

Bill Hero includes solar in your personalised comparison and ranking, so you can identify the plan that would have provided the cheapest combined price including the kWh you imported from the network, and what you earned from the kWh you generated and exported in the billing period.

How will I pay my bill?

You'll need to pay your bill directly to your new retailer. Bill Hero does not handle payment collection.

What is the Bothered Threshold?

After your first switch, Bill Hero monitors every bill for and calculates what additional savings are available for you on each one. You set your own 'Bothered Threshold' for the savings you'd need before bothering to switch again. Bill Hero will report back to you on every bill, but we'll only initiate a new switch when we find savings greater than your Bothered Threshold.

Can Bill Hero handle gas bills?

Not yet, but we're working on it.

Can Bill Hero handle business electricity bills?

Bill Hero for SME business is on our roadmap. Send a request via our Contact form and we'll let you know when it's ready.

How do you handle discounts?

Discounts often feature prominently in the marketing of energy plans, but it’s hard to understand what the impact will be, since the discount can apply to either your kWh consumption, or to the final dollar amount of the bill.

Retailers often make their discounts contingent on on-time bill payment and/or direct debit, so your behaviour as a bill payer is a major influence on the effective price you will pay.

Bill Hero automatically includes all guaranteed discounts. We also accommodate conditional discounts by calculating your personalised comparison results based on the payment information in your bill.

If your bill does not specify if you paid your previous bill on time, then we'll assume you'll pay by direct debit, since this usually ensures the best possible prices. You can change the payment behaviour in our personalised rankings screen to see how prices can change due to payment behaviour.

When you say you pay by Direct Debit we apply the full potential discount benefit for each plan, including any incremental discounting that may be specifically tied to direct debit payment.

When you say you always pay on time, we apply the full potential discount benefit for each energy offer, exclusive of any incremental Direct Debit discount.

When you say you sometimes pay on time, we apply half the potential discount benefit for each plan, exclusive of any Direct Debit discount.

When you say you do not pay on time, we do not apply any conditional discount benefits for any plan.

How do you handle incentives?

Many retailers offer one-time incentives in addition to discounts to market their energy plans. Incentives can take many forms, including fixed cash rebates or cash-back on the first bill, variable cash-equivalent incentives such as ‘first month free’ offers, non-cash incentives such as movie tickets or sports jerseys, or conditional incentives, such as a sign-up bonus that applies only if you buy both electricity and gas at the same time

It’s tricky to include such incentives in a pricing analysis, because they will normally only impact the first bill, sometimes reducing that first bill by a significant amount.

Bill Hero includes only cash or cash-equivalent incentives in our pricing calculations - non-cash incentives like movie tickets and sports memorabilia are always excluded - and we calculate the price impact of those incentives over 1 year.

For example a $100 incentive on an Electricity plan will manifest as a $25 reduction to a quarterly estimated bill price for that plan.

What about the new Default Offers?

From 1 July 2019, new regulation replaced the old Standing Offers with Default Offers across most of the National Energy Network. There are two kinds of Default Offer: The Default Market Offer (DMO) is set by the AER for Residential and SME single and single + controlled load tariffs in NSW, SA and South East QLD. In Victoria, the Essential Services Commission sets the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) for single rate and controlled load tariffs in Victoria only.

DMO rates are expressed as a single dollar value for a set annual consumption level, rather than as a price per day plus a price per unit of usage.

In Victoria, VDO rates are expressed as a price per day plus a price per unit of usage. Retailers are free to market and sell Market Offers, but they must make the VDO price available for those who want it.

Both DMO and VDO set a cap on the price that a customer will pay when they have not entered into a Market Offer with their retailer. They also set the benchmark against which any discounts offered in Market Offers must be expressed.

See https://www.aer.gov.au/retail-markets/retail-guidelines-reviews/retail-electricity-prices-review-determination-of-default-market-offer-prices for more information on the DMO.

See https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/victoriandefaultoffer for more information on the VDO.