Alinta Energy fined $300,000 for fraudulent behaviour

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Alinta Energy has paid $300,000 in penalties after 15 customers were allegedly transferred to the company without consent.

The Essential Services Commission found customers were transferred as a result of fraudulent behaviour by three Alinta Energy sales agents to acquire customers.

The commission issued 15 penalty notices after an investigation found between September and October 2016, Alinta Energy arranged the transfers without first obtaining explicit informed consent.

Essential Services Commission chair Dr Ron Ben-David said the commission took action because explicit informed consent is a core principle of customer rights.

“Energy companies must disclose contract information in plain English, they must know that the customer is capable of giving consent and they must obtain that consent in writing or verbally,” he said.

“They must also be able to verify any spoken consent.”

Dr Ben-David said retailers also need to ensure they, or any sales agent working on their behalf, can meet these requirements before arranging a transfer.

“Retailers are legally responsible for the conduct of any agents working on their behalf,” he said.

The alleged breaches came to light when some of the affected customers complained to Alinta Energy who then reported the alleged breaches of the energy rules to the commission.

The affected customers were from across Victoria, including from St Kilda, Morwell, Croydon and Warrnambool.

All customers were transferred back to their original retailer.