Discounts and cheaper bills promised during door-to-door marketing are not honoured (November 2016)

Getting connected and changing energy company, Debt collection and credit default listings, High bills, Billing mistakes
Case Number 2016/18000
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mrs S owned a retail business and had a sales representative from an energy retailer visit her several times in early 2016 offering a new electricity contract. In May 2016, after feeling pressured to sign up, with the understanding that she would receive a 39% discount and would have cheaper bills, Mrs S agreed to transfer to the new energy retailer.

Mrs S experienced a delay with receiving bills, and sometime later received a disconnection warning notice for over $8,000. Mrs S contacted the new retailer to advise that her bills were normally about $500 to $600 per month and that she did not understand how the account balance could be so high. The retailer advised that it could not honour the 39% discount offered during the door-to-door sales contact as Mrs S’ meter and network tariff were not compatible with the offer it had made. The retailer explained that Mrs S had demand charges associated with her tariff, which is why the bills were higher.

Mrs S also contacted her previous retailer and it advised that it could not offer the contract she was previously on as it had been incorrectly billing her without demand charges. Dissatisfied with the new retailer’s response and the information provided to her during marketing, Mrs S contacted EWOV on 19 August 2016 and an Assisted Referral was raised.

The Investigation

Mrs S was not satisfied with the retailer’s response during the Assisted Referral and she had received another disconnection warning notice. She re-contacted EWOV on 9 September 2016 and an Investigation commenced.

As part of the Investigation, EWOV reviewed the contact notes, billing issued and the contract. We also reviewed the network tariff assigned to Mrs S’ business in the national electricity database and liaised with the electricity distributor to confirm what tariffs were available. 

The Outcome

Due to the incorrect information provided during the marketing, Mrs S’ retailer agreed to waive the billing that totalled about $8,000 for consumption between the establishment of the account and 24 August 2016.

Mrs S’ electricity distributor agreed to assign a new network tariff – that better matched her usage – from 1 November 2016 that did not include demand charges. This allowed Mrs S to transfer her account to a completely new retailer and access lower tariffs.

Mrs S’ electricity account balance was also further reduced by 39% to $1,191.57 to facilitate the resolution of the complaint and her account was transferred to a completely new retailer from 19 October 2016. Mrs S was satisfied with the outcome and the Investigation was closed.

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