Discount off what? Energy plan promotions a concern

[box border=”full”]The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be writing to energy retailers to put them on notice about possible misleading promotions.[/box]

In a speech to the Consumer Action Law Centre’s energy workshop in Melbourne, ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said the ACCC is increasingly concerned about possible misleading conduct by energy retailers in their promotion of energy plans.

“These concerns relate to the promotion of discounts and savings off energy use and/or supply charges under those plans.”

Ms Rickard said no one should be surprised that the ACCC will take a firm approach where it forms the view that misleading representations are being made to consumers about savings.

The Deputy Chair also spoke about other energy consumer issues which form part of the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities.

“The ACCC has taken court action and we’ve obtained significant penalties against energy retailers and their marketing companies for poor conduct in door-to-door sales.

“This includes misleading statements about the purpose of salesperson’s visit, such as representing they were not there to sell anything, and making misleading statements about the price of products, and claims that consumers were being overcharged by their current supplier.”

In opening the workshop, Ms Rickard said comparability is a dilemma facing Australian energy consumers.

“While retail competition and choice have delivered many benefits, unfortunately it is a difficult and complex process for the average consumer to compare and decide on which energy plan suits them best.”

Ms Rickard discussed the Australian Energy Regulator’s price comparator website, Energy Made Easy, which allows households to compare gas and electricity offers as well as consider their energy usage.

Ms Rickard also provided an update on some of the key developments which will provide consumers with a voice at the energy regulation table.