- What is Energy Assured Limited?
- Who are the members of the Energy Assured program?
- Why are retailers and marketers participating in the program?
- What are the aims of the Code of Practice?
- How are the objectives of the Code of Practice achieved?
- What is the Energy Assured Code Panel?
- What is the purpose of the Energy Assured Stakeholder Working Group?
- What is the role of the Code Manager?
- Is the program audited?
- When does the program commence?
- When can an agent deregistered?
- Why can’t a “rogue” agent just switch companies?
- Sanctions for energy retailers and energy marketers
- Can sales agents, energy retailers or energy marketers appeal decisions?
- What is the process for handling sales issues?
- What should customers expect from sales agents?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Energy Assured Limited?
Energy Assured Limited is a self-regulated energy industry program to monitor and improve door to door marketing standards. It seeks to improve compliance by both energy retailers and energy marketing companies to promote consumer confidence in door to door sales to improve the customer experience and reduce the incidence of sales issues. Energy Assured manages a Code of Practice which has been authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The Code includes:
- A program to ensure sales agents are recruited, trained and assessed in a consistent manner across the industry;
- A central register of accredited sales agents;
- Monitoring sales agent behaviour — such that a proven breach Energy Assured’s standards may result in disciplinary measures and deregistration of the sales agent for five years;
- Annual compliance audit of each energy retailer; and
- Imposing sanctions on energy retailers or marketing companies who fail to comply with the Code.
Who are the members of the Energy Assured program?
|Australian Power & Gas||Lumo Energy||Momentum Energy||Energy Retailer’s Association of Australia|
|Origin Energy||Red Energy||Simply Energy|
|Australian Green Credits||Communicom||CPM|
|The SMART Group||XYZ Docklands||TSA|
Why are retailers and marketers participating in the program?
Sales agents are able to provide offers for consumers that can give them the opportunity to save on their energy costs. Energy retailers and energy marketers already comply with regulations and marketing codes of conduct and are now seeking to apply consistent practices to bring a high quality of behaviour by sales agents. The energy industry acknowledges that there are some instances of behaviour by door to door sales agents which can be improved and is actively working to address consumer concerns and promote consumer confidence in door to sales of energy.
The industry wants to ensure quality sales and that sales agents behave appropriately when dealing with consumers.
What are the aims of the Code of Practice?
The Code of Practice sets out a framework for the conduct of door to door sales by energy retailers and energy marketing companies. It is aimed at improving the standard and effectiveness of door to door marketing thereby reducing sales issues and promoting consumer confidence.
The aims of the Code of Practice are to:
- Promote consumer confidence in door to door sales
- Provide customers with a better overall experience in energy sales at the door
- Improve the standards and effectiveness of door to door sales
- Reduce the rate of sales issues as a proportion of premises visited
- Discipline and/or remove “rogue” Sales Agents
How are the objectives of the Code of Practice achieved?
Objectives will be achieved by a range of measures including:
- a central register of Sales Agents who have been accredited under the program;
- a consistent program for the recruitment, training and assessment of Sales Agents including a 100 point identity check, reference check and criminal history check;
- a consistent program for monitoring sales issues, where any breach of the standards may result in disciplinary measures and deregistration of sales agents from the register for 5 years;
- a program for handling sales issues;
- a system which ensures Member compliance monitoring through monthly reports and annual audits; and
- a process for imposing sanctions on Members for failure to comply with the Code, in addition to those that can be imposed by the relevant regulator or the ACCC.
What is the Energy Assured Code Panel?
The Energy Assured Code Panel is an independent panel charged with reviewing the strategic operations of the Code, hearing appeals related to decisions made against sales agents and establishing and reviewing sanctions imposed on members.
The Code Panel members are:
- Barry Adams – former Energy & Water Ombudsman Queensland
- Gavin Dufty – Manager Policy and Research St Vincent de Paul Society
- Nick Hakof – former Energy Ombudsman South Australia (CHAIRMAN)
- Terry Miller – former Group General Manager Country Energy
- Vera Visevic – Partner, Mills Oakley and Member Fundraising Institute of Aust Ethics Committee
What is the purpose of the Energy Assured Stakeholder Working Group?
Twice each year Energy Assured conducts stakeholder working groups where consumer advocacy groups, ombudsmen, regulators, retailers and marketers will be invited to consider the effectiveness of the Code.
This is a chance to engage with stakeholders to obtain feedback for Code improvements which can be considered by the EAL Board of Directors and the Code Panel. Discussion will include overview of key performance statistics and appropriate training packages to address consumer concerns.
What is the role of the Code Manager?
The Code Manager:
- Oversees the operation and promotion of the Code
- Monitors and measures Members compliance to the Code
- Develops appropriate training for Members
- Administers sanctions recommended by the Independent Code Panel for Member Code Breaches
- Determines deregistration of sales agents
Is the program audited?
An independent firm is responsible for conducting an annual compliance audit on members to help monitor and improve standards. An individual report is provided to the energy retailer and the Code Manager. A consolidated report is provided to the Energy Assured Board, the members, the Regulator, the Code Panel and the Ombudsman.
When does the program commence?
The program commences on 16 January 2012 allowing members to transition to the compliance requirements prescribed under the program.
When can an agent deregistered?
Where a serious breach has occurred, an energy retailer or energy marketer may request that an agent is deregistered. The Code Manager will review the case and can deregister the agent which means members will not employ the agent while deregistered. Deregistration applies for five years. Sales agents can appeal to the Code Panel and the decision may be upheld or overturned.
Why can’t a “rogue” agent just switch companies?
Up until now, sales agents terminated for inappropriate behaviour could simply get a job with another energy marketing company. The registry of agents allows energy retailers and energy marketers to access the sales agent’s history to identify sales agents who have been deregistered.
Sanctions for energy retailers and energy marketers
A warning notice can be issued to a member recommending that remedial action is undertaken. Sanctions can also be imposed on members ranging from a formal letter of admonishment to the member being deregistered permanently or temporarily from Energy Assured with a public statement being issued identifying the member, the breach and the deregistration period. A sanction can be for an energy retailer, an energy marketer or both.
Can sales agents, energy retailers or energy marketers appeal decisions?
Appeals can be made if the appellant believes:
- The Code Manager or Panel Member’s discretion was not exercised reasonably;
- The sales agent or member was denied natural justice; or
- New material evidence has come into the appellant’s possession that was not available for the Code Manager or Code Panel Member(s) to review prior to the determination.
What is the process for handling sales issues?
Energy retailers have an internal sales issue handling process. If a customer is not satisfied with the handling of the matter, they can be referred to the state ombudsman.
What should customers expect from sales agents?
Sales Agents must:
- Be courteous and professional and provide accurate information in particular with reference to potential savings, the product offer, consumers’ rights and obligations
- Act honestly and in good faith
- Avoid high pressure tactics and treat customers with respect
- Ensure a consumer’s privacy is maintained