Origin Energy To Pay $325,000 Fine For Misleading Plan Discounts
The penalties follow proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) concerning the level of discount that residential consumers in South Australia would receive under a DailySaver energy plan.
In early-to-mid-2015, the representations were made on the Origin website and in confirmation packs sent to consumers that under a DailySaver energy plan consumers would receive a discount of up to 16 per cent off Origin’s electricity energy usage charges and up to 12 per cent off Origin’s gas energy usage charges.
The court held that the representations were false or misleading, as the rates used to calculate usage charges under a DailySaver plan, to which the discount would be applied, were higher than the rates under the subsidiaries’ standard retail contracts, the ACCC stated.
This effectively resulted in consumers who entered into a DailySaver energy plan at the time receiving a reduced discount.
“Origin misled consumers about the level of discount they would achieve under a DailySaver energy plan – the key feature that would have attracted consumers to the plan,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims commented.
Sims noted that this “is a priority area for the ACCC”.
He added that the ACCC will “continue to take appropriate action” against energy retailers that “make false or misleading claims to consumers, particularly where those claims concern discounts or pricing”.
In addition to the fine, the court ordered the publication of a corrective notice in The Advertiser newspaper, notification to all affected consumers, and payment of a contribution towards the ACCC’s costs, with the orders made with the consent of the parties.