Alinta Energy has apologised to customers for breaches of the Payment Difficulty Framework in Victoria, and paid a $1.125 million penalty to the Essential Services Commission Victoria.
Between October 2019 and March 2020, Alinta Energy incorrectly placed a condition on some of its customers experiencing hardship, requiring them to seek financial counselling in order to be granted a continuation of their payment plan.
“This occurred because training materials for some of Alinta Energy’s call centre agents were not adequately reviewed, and it had serious consequences for some of our customers – in this case, our most vulnerable customers,” Alinta Energy Managing Director and CEO, Jeff Dimery, said.
“We failed these customers. We got it wrong, and I am deeply sorry,” Mr Dimery said.
“These customers were asking for help, and they didn’t get that from us. What they were told was wrong, confusing and unfair – and that is unacceptable.”
The penalties relate to 75 customers. Alinta Energy has apologised to each of them individually, and wiped their debt at the time.
Alinta Energy has made some significant improvements across its business to improve its customer service since the issue was uncovered in March last year. These include:
“These are just the first steps we have taken in response to this issue – and, there’s more to do,” Mr Dimery said.
Amanda Hagan also recently joined Alinta Energy as Executive Director Retail Markets, and has a strong mandate to drive Alinta Energy's improvements to customer service – alongside the entire leadership team.
"We are committed to doing better for our customers, and will continue to strengthen policies and processes across our business to try to ensure something like this can't happen again,” Mr Dimery said.