ACCC says Click Energy misled consumers about discounts
Competition & Consumer Protection July 9, 2018 5:52 pm By Cat Fredenburgh | Melbourne

The ACCC has filed a lawsuit against Click Energy for allegedly misleading consumers about possible discounts on their energy bills.

Between October 2017 to March 2017, approximately, Click Energy told customers in Victoria and Queensland they were eligible for discounts of between 7 and 29 percent under its market energy offers if they paid their bills on time. However, the discounts were much lower than advertised because they only applied to market offer rates, which varied and were higher than Click’s standing offer rates, according to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

“When compared with Click Energy’s standing offer rates, the discounts were much lower than advertised. In some cases, there was no discount at all,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

The ACCC also said Click misled consumers by promising estimated savings if they switched to Click, even though it had no basis for making those representations. The advertised savings were based solely on savings consumer were eligible for if they paid their bills on time.

Sims called Click’s alleged conduct “among the worst practices we see in retail electricity marketing”.

“The retail electricity market is too complex and opaque. Customers need to trust that discounts and savings advertised by retailers are accurate so they can make informed choices about which products are best for them,” Sims said.

Representatives for Click Energy did not respond to a request seeking comment on the ACCC lawsuit.

A case management hearing has been scheduled for August 3 before Justice John Middleton.

Last month, the ACCC won a court enforceable undertaking from Alinta Energy over allegedly misleading electricity ads.

The ACCC said that between December 9, 2017 and February 28, 2018, Alinta ran ads that compared increases in its competitors’ standing or undiscounted tariff rates to decreases in Alinta’s discounted tariff rates.

The regulator said it worried the comparison gave a false impression of Alinta’s electricity price reduction, which for standing tariff rates was 1.8 per cent, not 2.8 per cent as advertised, and that Alinta had likely violated the Australian Consumer Law through the ads.

“The ACCC was concerned that this comparison was misleading as it gave a false impression“Alinta’s conduct prevented customers from making informed choices about which electricity retailer best suited their needs. Businesses must not mislead consumers in advertisements comparing their prices or services to those offered by competitors,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.

Alinta said it would compensate thousands of Victorian over the misleading ads, agreeing to honor the 2.8 per cent tariff price reduction through credits and adjusted rates.

The ACCC is represented by Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

The case is Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Amaysim Energy Pty Ltd (trading as Click Energy).

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Cat Fredenburgh

Cat Fredenburgh has been covering legal news for 12 years. She was previously Editor-in-Chief at US legal news publication Law360. She is the Co-Founder of Lawyerly.