Evidence gathered by the Essential Services Commission showed that between January and March 2022, 1st Energy signed up 81 energy customers on new energy contracts as a result of unsolicited approaches at their homes by representatives of a third-party sales agency.
Commissioner Sitesh Bhojani says there are clear rules in place that prohibit unsolicited door-to-door sales and cold calling by energy retailers.
“I remind retailers that the ban also applies to the activities of agents acting on a retailer’s behalf. Retailers who try to get around it by having third parties conduct these activities on their behalf risk enforcement action,” Commissioner Bhojani said.
The commission found evidence to indicate that a third-party sales agency representative attended customers’ homes with permission to install an in-home energy usage display monitor, but also used the opportunity to arrange a quote for a new energy plan with 1st Energy.
1st Energy acknowledged the alleged conduct is likely to have contravened Victorian energy laws on this occasion and has remediated affected customers. It has also ceased any Victoria-based work with the associated third-party sales agency.
The commission has accepted an enforceable undertaking by 1st Energy to implement comprehensive quality assurance and compliance monitoring of its policies and processes relating to sales channels partners. The retailer must also introduce regular training to cover unsolicited sales prohibitions and practices and appoint an independent person to audit its compliance.
The Victorian Parliament legislated the ban on door-to-door sales and cold calling on energy retailers in December 2021.
“The ban has been generally effective, however where the commission obtains evidence of non-compliance, we will take action,” Commissioner Bhojani said. “We are also monitoring industry compliance with strict consumer protection laws in Victoria that require retailers to inform and gain a customer’s clearly expressed consent for energy contracts.”