Lumo fined $10,800 for misleading customers
Energy retailer accused of falsifying reason for price hike.
Australia's consumer watchdog has penalised national energy provider Lumo for misrepresenting the Australian Energy Regulator's (AER) actions to a number of its customers.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a $10,800 infringement notice to Lumo Energy Australia Pty Ltd, which the company has since paid.
Lumo is a retail energy provider, wholly owned by Snowy Hydro Limited, operating throughout South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
The ACCC asserts that in February 2016, Lumo call centre staff informed some customers that retail gas tariffs had been increased as a result of regulations imposed by the AER.
However, the retailer actually marked up the charges as part of a commercial pricing decision.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said it's important energy retailers take responsibility for their commercial decisions, especially those which may be detrimental to consumers.
"Energy customers rely on retailers to provide accurate information. Consumers are entitled to make informed decisions about their energy use and choice of provider," he said.
The payment of the penalty is not an admission of a contravention of Australian Consumer Law (ACL) but the ACCC can issue infringements when there are reasonable grounds to do so.
Earlier this year, AGL and EnergyAustralia were fined a total $60,000 for failing to follow dispatch orders.
As Australia ramps up its LNG production capacity, an oversupplied global market and increased exposure from exports will likely drive up wholesale prices and in turn, residential gas bills.
However, the latest research shows that while a majority of Australian households have considered switching providers or plans in the last three years, only a small proportion have actually made a change.
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