Following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and a settlement reached with iSelect, the Federal Court of Australia has declared that iSelect contravened the Australian Consumer Law by making false or misleading representations to consumers using its energy comparison service.
Between 13 November 2016 and 6 December 2018, iSelect represented to consumers visiting its website that through its comparison service it would compare all of the plans available from its partner retailers in a consumer's area and recommend the most suitable or competitive plan to the consumer when:
Between March 2017 and November 2019, iSelect also represented to certain consumers in NSW that the price for an available plan was an amount lower than the price that the consumer would, or would be likely to, pay to the energy provider for the plan. This was due to a coding error which resulted in iSelect offering plans to those consumers that did not account for their controlled load usage in the tariff rate.
As a result of the conduct described above, consumers may have switched plans on the basis of a price that was understated or signed up for recommended electricity plans, which though cheaper than their existing plan, may not have been the cheapest plan available.
The ACCC and iSelect made joint submissions in relation to the appropriate relief, including penalty, in this matter. The court ordered iSelect to pay a penalty of $8,500,000, make a contribution of $100,000 towards the ACCC’s costs of the proceeding, and publish this corrective notice.
More information in relation to the action taken by the ACCC is available on the ACCC’s website at www.accc.gov.au.