The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has today announced it is taking court action against EnergyAustralia Pty Ltd (EnergyAustralia) and its telemarketing company, Bright Choice Australia Pty Ltd (Bright Choice).
The ACCC alleges the companies contravened Australian Consumer Law by “making false and misleading representations and engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct” when selling electricity and gas plans.
Bright Choice allegedly signed up consumers in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland to EnergyAustralia plans without consumers being aware.
The ACCC says that Bright Choice made customers believe that they were not being signed up to an energy agreement, that they would be sent out information regarding energy agreements, and that EnergyAustralia and Bright Choice would not treat them as though they were signed up to an agreement unless they called Energy Australia to accept an offer.
The ACCC alleges that Bright Choice sent consumers “Welcome Packs” containing contractual documents even though no agreement had been made to switch energy services.
“Regardless of whether a salesperson is knocking on your door or calling you at home, the legal protections of the Australian Consumer Law apply,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“The ACCC’s message is clear – energy companies must act to ensure that their sales agents and representatives do not engage in unlawful sales tactics, whether they are selling door to door or telemarketing.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations and costs against both EnergyAustralia and Bright Choice and injunction and compliance program orders against Bright Choice.
The hearing will be held in Melbourne on 13 February.