The following case studies show how accounts can be transferred without a customer’s clear and informed consent. This sometimes occurs as a result of marketing by third party sales companies. Customers often do not understand how their account transferred to another retailer when they did not agree to a transfer. Customers often tell us that they only agreed to have information provided to them but did not agree to a new contract. 

We are also seeing complaints from customers that have not fully understood the information provided by a marketer and how this can result in their account being transferred to a different retailer. This highlights the need for retailers to ensure that customers understand the information provided. Customers should not feel pressured into agreeing to a transfer unless they fully understand the information provided to them. 

Case studies

Customer did not agree to transfer

A customer was contacted by her preferred retailer to advise that her electricity and gas accounts were transferring to a new retailer. She could not understand how the new retailer had obtained her details. She said she did not consent to an account with the new retailer either verbally or through an online application. 

When she spoke to the new retailer, she was told that it had received an online application for the transfer of her accounts. She thought she may have made an enquiry, but not consent for a transfer. She said she found the new retailer unhelpful. She was also concerned about her personal information being obtained by the retailer as she had recently received an email from another service provider indicating that they received her details from the new retailer.  

When we asked about the transfer, the retailer advised that both accounts were established online through a third party sales company. The retailer confirmed that the customer’s transfer was cancelled, and it deleted the customer’s private information, retaining only minimal information.  

Customer accepted rates offered by third party marketer 

A customer received a telemarketing call from a third party agency on behalf of a retailer. The agency offered to review her current energy rates. The customer said she did not want to change retailers and the agency assured her that it only intended to check if she was on the correct rates. She agreed to proceed with the call on this basis.
The agency obtained her details and discussed the rates it considered she needed to be billed on. She accepted the rates, however reinforced that she did not want to change providers. The agency repeatedly assured her that their only purpose was to check her current rates and that it would liaise with the retailer to make sure that she received the correct rates. Soon after she received a bill from the new retailer for over $2,000. She called that retailer and disputed the basis of the account and the bill. The retailer told her the account was correct and payable. The debt was then referred to a debt collection agency. The customer said she did not agree to be billed by the retailer. 

We referred the matter back to the retailer, for resolution at a higher level with the customer’s acceptance knowing she could return to  us if she was unhappy with the outcome.