I've never heard of these retailers
It's natural to be a bit careful about buying things from people or organisations you've never heard of before.
In Australia we are lucky to have robust consumer protections under the Australian Consumer Law, and for energy purchases, the protections are even greater: there are additional energy-specific provisions under the Australian Consumer Law, and we also have the National Energy Customer Framework which regulates the sale and supply of electricity and gas to retail customers. The AER publishes information about these regulatory instruments and the protections they provide for energy consumers here : https://www.aemc.gov.au/regulation/energy-rules/NECF-ACL
There are many retailers competing with each other in the retail energy markets, and new retailers enter the market all the time, so its unlikely that you'll recognise all the brands available to buy from. Bill Hero compares all the plans side by side, from all retailers, so you'll easily be able to find the best priced options. It's no surprise that the smaller and newer competitors in the market often prove to be among the most price competitive - they have little or no brand awareness, so they rely more heavily on price.
Even if you initially feel a bit of hesitancy in buying from one of these retailers, or if you've found some negative anecdotal reviews about a retailer, the real risks are very low. Here's why:
- Retailers don't actually supply your energy, they only supply the bills, so there is no impact on the surety of your energy supply no matter which retailer you choose. When you switch retailers there is no interruption to your energy supply, and there is absolutely no change or increased risk of blackouts, brownouts or other supply issues no matter if you choose a large and well known retailer or a new market entrant with an unknown brand;
- The retail energy industry is heavily regulated. Regulatory obligations are taken very seriously by all retailers, including the smallest and newest market entrants, because they risk significant fines and potentially losing their retail licence for non compliance. All retailers must demonstrate they have capability run a credible retail energy operation before they're even allowed to take on their very first customer;
- If you ever have any serious issue or compliant that you cannot satisfactorily resolve directly with your retailer, there are state-based Ombudsman schemes to escalate to. All retailers are obliged to participate in the relevant Ombudsman schemes in the territories where they offer their energy plans;
- Energy is recognised under the regulations as an essential service. This includes protection for you as an energy consumer in the event that your retailer closes down or goes out of business for any reason. In that situation, the 'retailer of last resort' scheme will apply and your account will be transferred to the default retailer for your distribution zone and there is no interruption to your energy supply;
- It's possible to switch between retailers at any time, so if you decide that that your retailer is not giving you the service you expect, it is very simple to move to another retailer, and there is no penalty to do so;
- There's never been much love for energy retailers, and consumers in general will be much more motivated to write reviews about their retailer when something has gone wrong, rather than when things are ticking along smoothly. So its no surprise that the bulk of energy retailer reviews are negative.
Energy is an absolute commodity purchase, and there is no difference whatsoever in quality, availability, or surety of supply, no matter who you choose to buy your energy from. So you may as well buy from whichever retailer will give your the best price.