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An electricity company called Robyn* to get her to transfer. She couldn’t give her consent because of a medical condition.

In December, an electricity company called Robyn. She didn’t agree to switch her account and returned the welcome pack she received. When she got a $180 bill from the new energy company, she knew it had transferred her electricity account without her permission.

Robyn transferred her account back to her previous electricity company. But the new company said she needed to pay the $180 bill, otherwise it would start debt collection. It offered her a payment plan. The company explained that Robyn gave her ‘explicit informed consent’ to the transfer. This means she understood and agreed to the transfer.

A representative of Robyn called EWOV and explained that Robyn suffers from an illness that affects her memory, language and cognitive skills. Because of this, Robyn did not have capacity to provide consent to the transfer.

We began an Investigation. This means we review all information relevant to the case. We work with both sides to reach a fair and reasonable outcome.

We reviewed the call recordings between Robyn and the telemarketer working for the electricity company. Only the consent portion of the phone call was recorded, so we couldn’t know what was discussed before this section. We also believed that her medical condition could affect her ability to consent to the transfer.

The electricity company said it only records the consent portion of these calls, and not the entire call. We didn’t think this was fair and reasonable. We got good industry practice advice from three other electricity companies to learn about their approach. Two of the three companies said it would waive the bill. The other company said it would bill the customer on the same rates she would have received, and give her a $50 credit.

All three companies said they record sales or marketing calls from start to end, not just the consent portion.

We discussed the industry practice advice with the company involved in this complaint. It decided to waive the account balance.

The company apologised to Robyn. It placed her details on its internal ‘do not call’ register, and suggested she put her details on the national ‘do not call’ register. The company waived the final balance of $183.60 and closed Robyn’s account. Robyn was happy with this outcome and we closed the complaint.

Case number: 2018/5538

*Names have been changed.

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