Customers exercising their cooling off rights

If a customer is not advised that they are being transferred on an estimated read or a date in the past, sometimes they receive their first bill during their cooling off period. Some customers try to cancel the transfer process and withdraw explicit informed consent, because they do not agree with being transferred at an earlier date and were not given any other options when signing up.

The rules allow for retailers to offer customers different options to best suit the customer’s needs, however complaints to EWON indicate that this is not always happening. This is further impacted when retailers make other mistakes in the transfer process eg finalising accounts rather than retrospective transfer.

Case study A customer contacted a retailer on 9 December 2021 to transfer his electricity account. He wanted to have his gas and electricity account with one retailer. He received an email from the retailer on 11 December 2021 to advise that his account was transferred on 15 October 2021.

On 18 December 2021, he contacted the retailer and requested to cancel the transfer under the 10 day cooling off period. His electricity transferred back to his previous retailer on 23 December 2022.

Even though he had cancelled the transfer, he received an estimated bill from the retailer for the period 15 October 2021 to 22 December 2022 for $160, which he paid. He then contacted the retailer on multiple occasions between December 2021 and February 2022 to ask why the account had transferred back to 15 October 2021, rather than the original date that he contacted them. He also requested a refund for the money he had paid, as he cancelled his account within the 10 day cooling off period.

In February 2022, he received an email from the retailer requesting his bank details to facilitate a refund of $160, however he then received another bill for one day (15 October 2021) for $2. In March 2022, he also received a bill for the period 15 October 2021 to 22 December 2022 for $230.

The customer contacted EWON for further assistance. We requested additional information from the retailer which advised that when the customer had cancelled the transfer during the 10 day cooling off period, it had incorrectly taken steps to end the account, rather than transfer it back to his previous retailer. The bills that had been issued were addressed to ‘The Occupier’ as the retailer had the billing rights to the account during that period.

 The retailer took steps to reverse all bills associated with the property and confirmed that a full refund had been issued to the customer. The retailer also sent a written apology to the customer.

Case study On 27 June 2022, a customer contacted a retailer and arranged to transfer her electricity account.  

On 29 June 2022, she received a bill from the retailer for 28 March 2022 to 24 June 2022 for $300.  

She contacted the retailer and requested that the bill start from 21 June 2022, as she had already paid her previous retailer for usage up to 20 June 2022. It advised her that under the terms and conditions of her contract, they could backdate energy bills and she should seek a refund from her previous retailer.  

The retailer also advised her that the only option was to either pay the bill issued to her or to cancel the account within the 10 day cooling off period. She cancelled the account on 29 June 2022.  

 The customer contacted EWON to raise her concerns as she was advised that this was industry practice, however she had since changed retailers again, and thankfully this time, backdating did not occur – confirming that some but not all retailers, are giving customers the option to backdate or wait until a meter reading.