Mojo Power East Pty Ltd (Mojo Power) and QEnergy Ltd (QEnergy) have each paid more than $180,000 in penalties for allegedly charging Victorian Default Offer customers incorrect rates.
The Essential Services Commission issued penalty notices to the retailers after an investigation indicated they charged more than 470 customers more than was permitted following changes to the Victorian Default Offer price that took effect on 1 January 2022, lowering the average household bill by about 5 per cent.
It is alleged the customers were billed incorrectly in January and February 2022 before the retailers updated the prices in their systems.
Commission chairperson Kate Symons said the commission sets the Victorian Default Offer as a safeguard for people who are unable or unwilling to engage in the electricity retail market.
“The commission has no hesitation in taking action to ensure the Victorian Default Offer remains a trusted safeguard for energy customers, including those experiencing vulnerability. Protecting the interests of those consumers is an enduring priority for the commission and any alleged failure to provide access to the correct rate is a great concern,” said Commissioner Symons.
“Every Victorian energy consumer has the right to expect they are being billed correctly and all energy retailers, regardless of their size, must have systems and processes in place to ensure their billing practices comply with the rules.”
“While it’s alleged some amounts were very small our investigation indicated that some of the affected customers were receiving assistance for payment difficulties while others were concession holders,” Commissioner Symons said.
“Any additional financial stress on people in hardship can have a real impact and household budgets can be under pressure at any given time so the commission is continually monitoring retailers to make sure they're following the rules and doing the right thing by their customers.”
Mojo Power and QEnergy reimbursed affected customers in March 2022.
The commission can issue penalty notices where it has reason to believe a business has contravened a civil penalty requirement. Payment of a penalty notice is not an admission of a contravention of a civil penalty requirement.