Origin ordered to pay back late fees
ORIGIN Energy has been ordered to reimburse more than 400 customers it overcharged over a period of more than seven years.
The Queensland Competition Authority this morning revealed it had directed Origin Energy to reimburse all affected customers late payment charges in standing offers that the QCA found breached Queensland energy retail pricing rules.
"Origin has undertaken to the QCA that it will immediately seek to contact more than 450 affected electricity customers in order to refund late payment fees recovered by Origin between 2011 and 2018.
"The charging of late payment fees by Origin in the circumstances was inconsistent with restrictions on the types of fees that can be levied by a retailer on its standing offer customers under section 22A of the National Energy Retail Law (NERL)," the QCA statement read.
Section 22A of the NERL applies only in Queensland.
The Palaszczuk Government is now conducting a review of the regulation and "customer protections such as the fee types restriction for standing offer customers are part of that review".
The QCA said it found six Origin standing offers that included $12 late payment fees during a check in January.
"In March 2019, Origin informed the QCA that it had unintentionally charged late payment fees to some of its standing offer customers between December 2011 and August 2018," it's statement read.
"Origin indicated that it will issue bill credits to affected customers who are still Origin customers, and will seek to notify affected customers who are no longer Origin customers."
"Following contact from the QCA, Origin has further confirmed that it will: seek to contact all affected customers and will make a full refund available to them; report monthly to the QCA over the next 6 months on the number of customers who have been contacted and the number and amount of refunds paid; report to the QCA on the steps which it has taken to ensure all future pricing is compliant with section 22A."
"It is important that electricity retailers meet their obligations regarding customer protections such as the restriction on fees that can be charged to standing offer customers," QCA Chair Professor Flavio Menezes said.
"The QCA encourages any former Origin standing offer customers who have been charged late payment fees to contact Origin to find out whether they are entitled to a refund."