Pressured into an account transfer by a door-to-door salesman (January 2017)

Getting connected and changing energy company
Case Number 2016/18000
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mrs S was dissatisfied with her electricity retailer. She said that she transferred her business account after being visited by a door-to-door sales person. She said she had felt pressure to transfer the account, because the sales person kept visiting the business premises.

Mrs S did not receive a bill from the retailer for a long period of time and then received a disconnection warning notice for $8,000 because of unpaid arrears. She contacted the retailer to dispute the bill as her previous bills were only $500 to $600 per month. She also noticed that the account did not receive the 39% discount she had been promised and the rates were no better than those she received from her previous retailer.

Mrs S was dissatisfied with the retailer’s response as it said it could not apply the rates or discount she was offered. When she contacted her previous retailer to organise a transfer back, it refused to place her back on her old contract.

When Mrs S contacted EWOV an Assisted Referral was lodged. During this process the retailer offered to waive a portion of the arrears, but it advised that the discount of 39% and the rates she was seeking were not possible, nor could it retrospectively transfer the account back to the previous retailer. She recontacted EWOV because she was not happy with this information and an Investigation was lodged.

The Investigation

The result of EWOV’s investigation showed that it was likely the business account had been incorrectly billed by the previous retailer, which is why Mrs S’s bills were so low - $500 per month compared to $3,000 on her current bill. The Investigation also found that the previous retailer would not be able to accept a retrospective transfer because a demand tariff (a tariff usually applied to business customers) had now been assigned to the account (from the distributor) and the old and incorrect contract could not apply. 

The Outcome

The retailer apologised for the inconvenience caused by the misinformation and the delay in resolving the matter. In recognition of this, it agreed not to charge Mrs S for usage between May 2016 to mid-August 2016, which was the period in which EWOV’s investigation was conducted. This left $1,799.19 outstanding on the account, which the retailer agreed to reduce further to $1,191.57.

Mrs S agreed to pay the outstanding amount by 2 December 2016. She planned to close the account after making the payment and to seek a new contract with a different retailer. Mrs S was satisfied with the offer made and the information provided. The case was closed.

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