This guidance note was published on 23 November 2020.
Guidance note 8 (2020): Additional retail charges in standard retail contracts
A retailer cannot charge additional retail charges to customers on standard retail contracts – unless the Energy Retail Code expressly provides for that charge. Examples of charges that cannot be charged to such customers include paper bill fees, over-the-counter fees and debit/credit card processing fees.
Additional information on guidance
Market versus standard retail contracts
In accordance with clauses 35A(1)(b) and 35A(3) of the Energy Retail Code (version 17), an additional retail charge relating to the sale of energy cannot be charged to customers on standard retail contracts* (such as those customers who are on the Victorian Default Offer) unless there is express provision for these charges in the code.
An additional retail charge is a charge relating to the sale of energy other than a charge based on the tariff applicable to the customer. This includes fees charged to customers for receiving paper bills, paying their bill over the counter at Australia Post or by BPAY. These are additional retail charges that are not provided for in the code and therefore must not be applied to standard retail contracts.
Processing fees such as debit and credit card fees must not be charged to customers on standard retail contracts (clause 35B(2)).
Additional retail charges can be included in a market retail contract** (such as contracts that are not standard retail contracts) if it is fair and reasonable (clause 35A(2)).
However, retailers must clearly disclose the charge as required by the code (particularly clauses 63 and 64) and the Australian Consumer Law.
Dishonoured payment fees
The only express provision for an additional retail charge that may apply to a standard retail contract is a dishonoured payment fee (clause 35C(1)). This fee can be charged to customers on standard and market retail contracts but only where it amounts to a recovery of that fee charged by the financial institution, no more (clause 35C).
* 'Standard retail contract' means a customer retail contract that arises from the acceptance of a standing offer.
** 'Market retail contract' means a contract between a small customer and a retailer which is not a deemed customer retail arrangement nor a standard retail contract;
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