AGL $1.5M Fine For Dodgy Door-to-Doors
The consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has fined AGL Sales and AGL South Australia a total of $1.55 million, after uncovering dodgy door to door sales tactics.
The Federal Court declared a CPM salesperson, hired to sell electricity and gas on behalf of AGL in Victoria made “false representations and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct” during (uninvited) house calls.
The salesperson’s conduct was clearly designed to mislead consumers about the salesperson’s reason for calling, by claiming ‘he was not there to sell anything,’ the Court said.
CPM salespeople also made a number of false statements about the price of AGL energy products and consumers being overcharged by their current energy supplier.
CPM Australia, the marketing company used by AGL, was also ordered to cough up a fine of $200,000 for its role in the “deceptive” conduct.
A second salesperson in South Australia was also found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
The Court also declared that CPM’s salespeople breached consumer law they not clearly advise consumers that the salesperson’s purpose in calling on the consumer was to seek an agreement for the supply of electricity, gas or that they would be obliged to leave immediately upon request.
One contested aspect of the hearing was whether the salesperson in South Australia broke the law by starting to negotiate despite the presence of a ‘Do Not Knock’ sign on the consumer’s front door.
The law requires salespeople to leave immediately on request and the ACCC asserted that a ‘Do Not Knock’ sign is such a request, in the case.
Justice Middleton has reserved his judgment on whether a request was made in this instance.
The Court ordered the companies to contribute to the ACCC’s costs and granted other remedies to inform consumers of their rights include corrective ads and compliance programs.
The ACCC has previously put energy retailers on notice and is “closely watching their use of door-to-door selling practices and the conduct of their salespeople” said Chairman Rod Sims.
In March, the watchdog instituted proceedings against Energy Australia and four marketing and sales companies in relation to their door-to-door selling practices. These proceedings are continuing.