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ACCC Takes iSelect To Task In Federal Court

An article regarding the ACCC taking iSelect to task over deceptive and misleading conduct in regard to selectively recommending energy retailers who paid them higher commissions.

https://www.msn.com/en-au/money/markets/iselect-deceived-energy-customers-accc/ar-BBVRfBe?ocid=spartandhp

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No surprise there @Fred123.

I had some interesting dealings with iSelect early in this year when I was looking for alternate deals for our electricity retailer. To get anything online from iSelect that was meaningful was difficult unless you provided some form of contact details. Even then the web mechanism was based on using your last bill information, usage and retailers rates. I reneged and it came back simply recommending how much you could save if you went to retailer X or Y or Z based on typical usage in your area!

Not surprisingly I had a phone call the next morning from iSelect. Polite but not very satisfactory. It all failed to be of use when I indicated that I had just had solar PV installed. Their feedback was that until I had my first full bill they could not help more than a simple recommendation. I suggested I could give them my base case based on what we expected as import vs export each billing period. Apparently that is outside their remit?

None of what transpired was fully transparent in my personal opinion.

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iSelect cops a $8.5 million penalty for mosleading consumers.

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The report in the ACCC’s release was very damning of iSelect but I also find it shows to my belief a lackluster ACCC not getting consumers some decent compensation :

“between November 2016 and December 2018…representing on its website that it would compare all electricity plans offered by its partners and recommend the most suitable or competitive plan
…//…
Actually, iSelect’s commercial arrangements with partner electricity retailers restricted the number of electricity plans those retailers could upload onto the iSelect systems, and therefore the recommended plans were not necessarily the most suitable or competitive
…//…
iSelect also admitted that, between March 2017 and November 2019, it misrepresented the price of some of the plans it recommended to almost 5,000 consumers. Because of an error in its website and call centre code, iSelect quoted a total price for some plans which underestimated the cost by up to $140 per quarter”

So for 2 to nearly 3 years of profit taking the company was fined a mere $8 Million for deceiving possibly tens of thousands or even more.

"iSelect admitted liability and made joint submissions with the ACCC to the Federal Court consenting to the orders sought, including penalties.

The Court also made corrective orders and ordered iSelect to pay part of the ACCC’s legal costs, by consent"

So only by consent in liaison with the ACCC and only paying part of the ACCC’s costs for being guilty but no reimbursement to those affected as per the norm. Consumers shafted not once but twice with an almost standard approach.

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Is there anything to stop a class action?
Or has the ACCC agreed with iSelect that the customer details for which offers were not in their best interest shall remain anonymous.

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What rankles me a lot is this is by consent ie they decided to consent to it rather than the ACCC really pushing it in the Courts where one would hope the larger penalties might be the outcome.

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I wonder if the legislation doesn’t allow costs to be awarded by the court and that consent is required for costs to be paid by the defendant (iSelect in this case). If this is the case, iSelect could refuse to pay any costs and the ACCC would have no recourse.

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The ACCC is not called a toothless tiger for nothing.

As I have posted previously in another topic, when we were fighting a foreign multi-national company, the fearless ACCC told me that they will only take on cases where they believe that they have more than a 90% chance of winning, and then added insult to injury by saying that aggrieved parties are free to commence their own legal actions under the then Trade Practices Act.

Fortunately, we successed with the help of my sister who had a distinguised legal career, no thanks to the useless ACCC.

Perhaps they send companies like iSelect a multi-choice question list so they can simply tick the box for the amount they are happy to pay.

iSelect’s share price actually rose today after they announced the outcome to the ASX.

Their shareholders must be laughing.

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Drum roll… 2 week old news.

iSelect fined $8.5 million over misleading customers on electricity plans

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What more demonstration do we need that the system and ACCC is a dismal failure…? An excuse for real compensation.

$8.5M and half the costs of the ACCC bringing the case.

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