Alinta Energy has paid infringement notice penalties of $40,000 for allegedly switching customers without their consent.
An investigation by the Australian Energy Regulator found two South Australian customers contacted by Alinta sales agents were transferred without their consent. It was evident during the calls that the customers either did not wish to transfer to Alinta Energy or did not fully understand the nature and the purpose of the call to agree to any transfer.
"Energy Retailers must ensure customers understand the reasons for sales calls and any agreement to transfer is informed and given freely."
"Energy companies are responsible for what is said or done by their sales agents as the requirement to obtain explicit informed consent (EIC) is a fundamental protection under the Retail Law for energy customers," said AER Board Member Jim Cox.
"Protecting vulnerable consumers and promoting confidence in the retail energy market are ongoing priorities for the AER and appropriate enforcement action will be taken where we see evidence of retailers failing to comply with their obligations," Mr Cox said.
The AER issued the notices to Alinta for alleged breaches of the National Energy Retail Law for failing to obtain EIC before entering customers into new contracts with Alinta.
Editors’ note: The payment of a penalty specified in an infringement notice is not an admission of a contravention of the Retail Law or Rules. The AER can issue an infringement notice where it has reason to believe a business has contravened a civil penalty provision of the Retail Law or Rules.
About the AER
The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) works to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future.
- We regulate electricity networks and covered gas pipelines, in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. We set the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks.
- We enforce the laws for the National Electricity Market and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia. We monitor and report on the conduct of energy businesses and the effectiveness of competition.
- We protect the interests of household and small business consumers by enforcing the Retail Law. Our retail energy market functions cover New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. We do not set the prices consumers pay.
We drive effective competition where it is feasible and provide effective regulation where it is not. We equip consumers to participate effectively, including through our Energy Made Easy website, and protect those who are unable to safeguard their own interests. We use our expertise to inform debate about Australia’s energy future.