Amaysim Energy (trading as Click Energy) has been ordered penalties of $900,000 by the Federal Court for making false or misleading marketing claims about potential discounts and savings available to Victorian and Queensland consumers.
During October 2018 to March 2018, Victorian and South East Queensland consumers were informed by Click Energy they could receive discounts of between seven to twenty nine per cent under its market energy offers, if they paid their bills on time.
The claims were misleading as the discounts were calculated on Click Energy’s market offer rates, which were higher than the company’s standing offer rates available to all consumers. This resulted in the effective discounts being smaller than claimed and some consumers effectively received no discount at all.
“Click Energy’s conduct misled consumers into thinking they were getting a significant discount, when in reality these discounts were often much smaller than advertised,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
Click Energy also told consumers between October 2017 and April 2018, they would save from $84 to $946 if they made the switch to Click Energy from another provider.
These claims were misleading as the savings were based on estimated savings for a Click Energy consumer paying their bill on time, rather than the savings a consumer would receive by switching to Click Energy.
“By making these false claims, Click Energy made consumers think they were better off switching to Click Energy, when the advertised savings had nothing to do with switching, but were savings someone already on a Click Energy plan could get if they paid on time,” Ms Court said.
The Federal Court also found that Click Energy had made false or misleading representations to consumers about when the discounts given to customers who paid on time would be applied to their bills, by not adequately disclosing the applicable conditions surrounding the discounts. These conditions included that discounts would apply as a credit on a subsequent bill and that no benefit would be received by paying a final bill on time.
“This penalty is a strong reminder to all energy retailers that making misleading pricing claims is unacceptable and in breach of the Australian Consumer Law,” Ms Court said.
Click Energy was also ordered by the Court to send each affected customer a notice correcting the misleading claims, implement a consumer law compliance program and pay an agreed amount towards the ACCC costs.
Click Energy admitted to contravening the Australian Consumer Law, and the Court’s decision on penalty and other relief was based on a statement of agreed facts and submissions filed jointly by Click Energy and the ACCC.