Amaysim Energy fined $600,000 after rogue sales agent signs up customers without consent

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Amaysim Energy has found itself in hot water after a sales agent signed Victorian customers up to its services without proper consent.

The retailer has paid penalties totalling $600,000 after the Victorian energy regulator, the Essential Services Commission (ESC), issued 30 penalty notices for the sales agent’s dodgy practices.

The ESC alleges that Amaysim Energy failed to obtain explicit consent before signing up the 19 customers to its electricity and gas services.

It’s said that the sales agent entered the customers’ details onto an online form without their permission.

ESC Chairperson, Kate Symons, said that by gaining customers through fraudulent means, trust in the energy market is undermined.

“Consumers must have confidence they will only be switched from one energy retailer to another after they are properly informed and have given their consent to the switch,” she said.

Despite the alleged fraud being spotted due to a high number of sales being processed by the responsible agent, Amaysim Energy went ahead with transferring and even billing the affected customers.

Ms Symons said: “Retailers are responsible for their sales agent’s actions and we will not hesitate to act to stamp out energy retailers gaining customers by allegedly fraudulent means.

“The company also pursued some customers for unpaid bills and, adding insult to injury, disconnected their electricity. Victorian consumers have suffered distress that should have been prevented.”

A statement from an Amaysim Energy spokesperson said the company admitted fault once they became aware of the fraudulent tactics undertaken by a third party sales contractor.

“The Energy Services Commission penalty arose as a result of misconduct by a former contractor of one of our sales channels, who signed up a small number of customers to products without their consent, in May and June 2018. As soon as we became aware of the issue, we proactively notified the ESC and have worked cooperatively with them throughout the prolonged investigation,” the statement said.

Amaysim Energy says it deems the penalty as being quite severe due to the isolation of the incident, but stated that the retailer will learn from the occurrence to ensure customers are protected.

“While we acknowledge the misconduct and have agreed to pay the penalty, we consider the penalty to be disproportionate to the isolated conduct of a single contractor working for a third-party sales channel and a situation in which no customer was left out of pocket,” the company said.

“We have taken the opportunity to learn from the event by enhancing our controls and internal guidelines to further minimise the risk of a similar occurrence in the future.”

Earlier this year, Alinta Energy was fined for a similar incident involving dodgy door-to-door sales tactic.

The ESC found that in a 12-month period, Alinta sales agents impersonated 14 customers in phone calls in order to sign them onto new energy contracts.

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Image credits: Adam Calaitzis/shutterstock.com

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