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Smart meters will empower consumers

Smart meters will empower Australian consumers by giving them the ability to regulate their usage and control their bills.

That's the message from Make It Cheaper, who said that this new technology will provide transparency.

By being able to see the environmental and monetary impact, they can change their behavior and ultimately control when and how they are billed.

The rollout has been quite negative because the communication has been quite poor. The Australian public hasn't been given the information about how it will benefit them and the Victorian take up - as far as how much it has cost - has put people off them.

The experience of New South Wales consumers was a negative one when there was a rollout a few years ago. The time of day pricing system that comes with these meters was automatically given to customers without warning. As a result, some people were paying three or four times what they would normally be charged.

That's a perfect example of why it's been a slow rollout - because people weren't given the right information about how they can use this technology to their advantage, he pointed out.

It's like when the internet was first available to users. Naysayers just said 'what's the point? It will just cost us money for an unnecessary service' - now it's a case of 'how did we ever live without it?'.

It's similar to mobile phone companies not giving their customers the pricing structure of their plan. If they weren't giving the right information about how much texts cost and how expensive it is to go over the data limit, they would be really shocked when they received their bill.

Rresearch conducted by Make It Cheaper found that most people thought there were about three or four retailers when in reality there's close to ten. As a result, people feel as if they have to live with rising electricity prices, while there are actually more companies available that want their business.

Avoid "bill shock" by setting up a monthly payment plan because when bill payers open their invoice after it has accumulated for three months, there's a chance they'll be surprised when they open it.

So talk to a comparison and switching service to see whether there is a better deal out there for you.

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