The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has proposed to authorise a new consumer code for retailers of emerging energy products in an effort to set good practices and protect consumers.
The New Energy Tech Consumer Code will cover products such as solar generation systems, energy storage systems, electric vehicle charging and other emerging energy products.
The code sets minimum standards of good practice and consumer protection, and will apply to all aspects of customers’ interactions with participating retailers, including marketing; finance and payments; warranties and complaints handling processes.
ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard, said products like solar panels or battery storage involve significant financial outlays for households, and that the code aims to give consumers more protections and more information to help them make informed purchases.
The applicants for authorisation are the Australian Energy Council, Clean Energy Council, Smart Energy Council and Energy Consumers Australia. Membership of the code would be voluntary.
Signatories to the code must comply with obligations, including that they:
- Avoid high-pressure sales tactics
- Ensure their advertising is clear and accurate
- Educate consumers about their rights
- Provide clear information about product performance and maintenance
- Take extra steps to protect vulnerable consumers
- Implement effective complaints handling processes
Because the code imposes conditions on the sales practices of competing companies, and includes sanctions for non-compliance, the code’s developers sought ACCC authorisation to ensure they were not breaching competition laws.
Further information about the application for authorisation, including copies of the ACCC’s draft determination and public submissions, is available at New Energy Tech Consumer Code.