Origin pays $126,000 for misleading customers over VDO price change

Advertisement

Just before the Victorian Default Offer (VDO) is due to change for 2021, the consumer watchdog has penalised Origin Energy for its conduct during last year’s January 1 price change in the state.

Origin has paid a $126,000 fine for allegedly misleading customers in an alert stating that prices were going up, suggesting it was related to the VDO price increase at the time.

The VDO impacts a retailer’s ‘standing offer’ – or most expensive plan – and effectively works as a price cap for electricity providers setting their pricing. On January 1, 2020, the default tariff went up by around seven per cent.

However, Origin sent out a letter stating that households on market offers could also expect a price hike, despite the change to the VDO not directly affecting these customers. This caught the eye of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“The decision of whether or not to increase the electricity prices of customers on market offers was entirely in Origin’s hands, and they chose to increase prices for the majority of these customers,” said ACCC Chair, Rod Sims.

“Electricity retailers must be clear when making price increase announcements so consumers aren’t given the misleading impression that government changes that don’t apply to them are the reason for the increase.

“Electricity bills are a major household expense, and the ACCC will continue to take enforcement action against retailers that make misleading claims about the reason for price increases.”

In response, Origin Executive General Manager, Retail, Jon Briskin, acknowledged the error and the efforts made to reverse it.

“To simplify pricing and communications for customers, we made a decision to apply the same percentage increase to all of our Victorian customers that was being applied to the Victorian Default Offer from 1 January 2020,” he said.

According to Origin, within two days of issuing the letters in December 2019, it realised the mistake and took immediate action to address it by including a message on upcoming bills.

Mr Briskin added: “We aim to achieve the highest standards of customer service across Origin, including simple, transparent and accurate communication, so it is disappointing we didn’t meet these standards on this occasion.

“While we believe there was no impact to customers, we acknowledge our mistake and accept the ACCC’s findings.”

Origin to cut power bills in 2021

The good news is that, alongside the VDO going down by approximately 10% this coming January, Origin has made the decision to cut power bills for all customers.

On January 1, 2021, households in Victoria with Origin can expect prices to fall by an average of 11%.

The retailer attributes this cost cut to the ongoing reduction of wholesale electricity and network costs.

Check out what’s on offer from Origin below.

Origin Power Prices

Origin Energy Prices NSW

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for NSW. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices VIC

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for Victoria. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices QLD

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for SE QLD. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Origin Energy Prices SA

Here are the Origin Energy plans on our database for South Australia. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Image credit: bbernard/Shutterstock.com

Share this article

Advertisement
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]
[a-zA-Zbs]