Amaysim’s energy retailer arm has been penalised $900,000 for exaggerating the discounts customers would receive.
The Federal Court handed down the decision after finding online power provider Click Energy told customers in Victoria and south-east Queensland that they could save 7 to 29 percent for paying their bills on time, even though this was not factually correct.
The published discounts were based off Click Energy’s market offer rates, which are higher than the company’s standing rates that anyone can access.
This meant that the discounts claimed by Click Energy were in reality, smaller – for some customers, they “effectively received no discount at all”.
“Click Energy’s conduct misled consumers into thinking they were getting a significant discount, when in reality these discounts were often much smaller than advertised,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.
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Click Energy was also in strife in court for telling the public they could save between $84 and $946 if the switched – even though those numbers had no connection to other electricity retailers’ rates.
“By making these false claims, Click Energy made consumers think they were better off switching to Click Energy, when the advertised savings had nothing to do with switching, but were savings someone already on a Click Energy plan could get if they paid on time,” the court said.
The court heard that Click Energy – officially Amaysim Energy Pty Ltd – also failed to sufficiently disclose conditions around the pay-on-time discounts, such as that the saving was only applied as a credit on the next bill.
So there is no discount on the final bill, if a customer is leaving the provider.
“The retail electricity market is already too complex and opaque for many households to navigate and get the best deal,” said the court.
“Misleading claims like those by Click Energy only make it harder for everyday consumers to make informed choices on a major household expense.”
The commissioner also warned that the complex product structures in certain industries, especially telecommunications and energy, would be a focus for the consumer watchdog this year.
Click Energy admitted violating Australian Consumer Law, in a case that was first raised last June by the ACCC.
The retailer was ordered to contact all affected customers to correct what they had been previously told, setup a “consumer law compliance program” and pay an agreed amount of ACCC’s court costs.
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