A gavel and money

Origin has been fined for eight alleged contraventions of Victorian energy laws and has paid $295,872 in penalties.

Origin allegedly referred six customers affected by family violence to a debt recovery agency without considering the potential impact of debt recovery on those customers.

Origin self-reported the issues affecting Victorian customers as required under the commission’s reporting requirements.

Before taking action to recover arrears from an affected customer, a Victorian energy retailer must take into account the potential impact of debt recovery action at the time on the affected customer. 

By failing to consider the impact to customers affected by family violence when referring them to an external debt collection agency, Origin allegedly failed to provide a safeguard afforded to customers experiencing vulnerability under the Energy Retail Code of Practice.

Essential Services Commissioner, Sitesh Bhojani, said the commission’s enduring priority is to help all Victorians experiencing vulnerability to access essential services.

“Customers who are affected by family violence have an entitlement to safe, supportive and flexible assistance from a retailer when managing their personal and financial security.

“The commission strongly urges energy businesses to ensure they have robust processes and procedures to meet their obligations to protect consumers affected by family violence,” Mr Bhojani said.

The Commission has two ongoing civil penalty proceedings against Origin in the Supreme Court of Victoria. 

The Commission commenced proceedings against Origin in December 2023 for alleged failures of life support and payment assistance obligations and again in February 2024 for alleged failures related to billing and disconnections.

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