CovaU and ReAmped Energy have both paid penalties totalling $33,300 each to the consumer watchdog, after failing to send customers required price change details during last year’s wholesale market mayhem.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleged that both retailers breached Electricity Retail Code (the Code) last year, after failing to include all necessary information required in price change notices to help customers compare their options.
Under the Code, retailers are required to provide details such as the percentage difference between their price and the Reference Price in the relevant location, the price without discounts included, the price with the discount included, the applicable distribution network a customer is on and the type of customer.
ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said this information was vital for consumers to help them make informed decisions about the best deal for them.
“Providing the required information is essential, particularly in the current economic environment when consumers need confidence to switch providers to save money as rising energy costs and cost of living issues hit households and small businesses,” she said. “We will continue to closely monitor the retailers to ensure that customers have the right information.”
Additionally, the ACCC alleged that CovaU failed to state the percentage difference to the comparison price set by the government on its communications sent to residential and small business customers in New South Wales, south-east Queensland and South Australia on May 30, 2022.
It’s the third time CovaU has paid penalties to the ACCC in the last four years, the most recent of which was also for allegedly breaching the Code and Australian Consumer Law. This was paid in January 2022.
Ms Craver said it was a concern to the ACCC to see CovaU allegedly failing to comply with retail code again.
“We are very concerned that CovaU continues to come to the ACCC’s attention for allegedly failing to comply with the Code,” she said. “As a result of these concerns, CovaU has also provided us with a court-enforceable undertaking, committing to inform impacted consumers of the most recent issue, implement a compliance program and to include all required information in future correspondence to customers. There are serious consequences for breaching such undertakings.”
CovaU was also fined in 2019 for allegedly misleading customers about discounts offered on their energy plans.
As for ReAmped Energy, the ACCC also alleged that the retailer did not include certain required information in communications sent to its residential and small business customers in NSW, SEQ and SA on May 9 and June 9 in 2022.
ReAmped Energy told its customers in late-May 2022 to consider switching retailers after it predicted significant hikes to its prices, citing rising wholesale prices as the cause.
The retailer is still not accepting new customers at this time.
For more information about the Electricity Retail Code, it is best to visit the ACCC’s website.
Alternatively, if you are concerned about pricing notifications or communications from your retailer, it may be worth contacting your local ombudsman for more information.