Comparison website accused of misleading customers
AUSTRALIA'S consumer watchdog has accused a comparison website of deceiving customers trying to save money on their electricity bill.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started legal proceedings against iSelect, a company that allows consumers to compare plans across health insurance, home services like electricity and internet plans.
iSelect is accused of misleading customers since at least November 2016 specifically when comparing energy plans.
The ACCC alleges iSelect claimed it compared all available plans from partnered electricity providers, but did not actually compare all those plans.
It alleges iSelect limited the number of plans it compared based on the partnerships it had with the companies being compared.
"iSelect told consumers they would help them compare all energy plans available in their area from all their partner retailers," an ACCC statement said.
"But we claim they were actually favouring some partner retailers over others, such as those on its 'Preferred Partner Program' who were allowed to have more plans available on the iSelect website that excluded and targeted certain consumers. These preferred retailers paid iSelect higher commissions."
The ACCC said when comparison sites like iSelect misled their customers, it made the crowded and confusing energy retail market even harder to navigate.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said customers who used iSelect's service may have ended up paying more for their electricity than they should have.
Electricity costs are a major drain on household budgets across Australia. In Queensland and New South Wales, the average bill for just two people adds up to more than $1500 a year.
The ACCC said more than 9 million people in Australia used the iSelect website in the 2017 financial year.