The 1.6 million Aussies who use EnergyAustralia may find they are owed money after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal action against the energy juggernaut.
The ACCC launched proceedings in the Federal Court against EnergyAustralia for allegedly breaching the Electricity Retail Code and the Australian Consumer Law when notifying its customers about impending price changes.
The Electricity Retail Code requires electricity retailers to communicate price information in a simple and standardised way, so customers can easily compare plans across different energy companies.
“With electricity prices increasing, and many Australians looking for a better deal, it’s crucial that the information people receive from their energy company is correct and can be relied upon,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“We have commenced this court action because we allege that EnergyAustralia’s conduct made it harder for people to accurately compare their electricity plan with offers from other retailers.”
Customers not told of lowest possible price option
The ACCC alleged that, between June and September 2022, EnergyAustralia failed to state the ‘lowest possible price’ when sending price-change notices to customers.
The lowest possible price is a mandatory estimate of the amount a customer would be charged in a year.
The ACCC also alleged EnergyAustralia made false or misleading representations in the estimates of annual costs that it provided to customers in price-change notices.
“Correspondence from energy companies often contains complex information that is hard for consumers to decipher, which is precisely the problem that the Electricity Retail Code was introduced to deal with,” Cass-Gottlieb said.
“Households cannot do genuine like-for-like comparisons between different electricity plans unless every energy company complies with the Code requirements on price offers.”
The ACCC is seeking penalties and declarations, costs, and other orders in the Australian Federal Court.