Amaysim Energy (also trading as Click Energy) has paid penalties totalling $600,000 after a contracted sales agent allegedly faked customer details to sign them up without their consent – an amount Amaysim says is disproportionate.
The Essential Services Commission has issued 30 penalty notices to Amaysim Energy after the agent allegedly entered 19 customer’s details into an online form without their permission, to sign them onto new energy contracts.
Commission chairperson Kate Symons says gaining customers through fraudulent means undermines trust in the market.
“Consumers must have confidence they will only be switched from one energy retailer to another after they are properly informed and have given their consent to the switch,” she said.
Ms Symons says it’s the second time this year a retailer has paid the penalty for the allegedly fraudulent actions of a sales agent.
“Retailers are responsible for their sales agent’s actions and we will not hesitate to act to stamp out energy retailers gaining customers by allegedly fraudulent means,” she said.
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The Essential Services Commission (ESC) said despite the alleged fraud being spotted due to a high number of sales being processed by the responsible agent, the company went ahead with transferring and even billing the affected customers.
“The company also pursued some customers for unpaid bills and, adding insult to injury, disconnected their electricity.
“Victorian consumers have suffered distress that should have been prevented,” Ms Symons said.
Amaysim Energy disagrees, stating that as soon as the company became aware of the incident, it contacted the Commission and “worked co-operatively with them through the prolonged investigation”.
“While we acknowledge the misconduct and have agreed to pay the penalty, we consider the penalty to be disproportionate to the isolated conduct of a single contractor working for a third-party sales channel and a situation in which no customer was left out of pocket,” a spokesperson for Amaysim Energy said.
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“While the breach was not the result of any individual within Amaysim, we have taken the opportunity to learn from the event by enhancing our controls and internal guidelines to do everything in our power to further minimise the risk of a similar occurrence at any third-party in the future.
“The penalty comes at a time when the economy is under pressure and when consumers need support. As part of our cooperation with the ESC we proposed to use the funds to benefit customers directly and were disappointed that this was rejected by the ESC.
Further, the company says it is committed to providing exceptional customer service and makes it a priority to ensure that it is operating within the law and doing the right thing by its customers.
“We want energy customers to have access to simpler plans and better understand their energy usage and costs, which is why we have developed subscription energy plans that charge a set monthly fee, for a set amount of energy that customers can track and manage,” the spokesperson said.