Energy Comparator Code of Conduct
The Energy Comparator Code of Conduct (ECCC) was a voluntary, self-enforceable code for commercial comparator and switching service organisations (“comparators”). Its objectives were to provide signatories' customers and stakeholders with an assurance of quality and best practice principles and to engender trust and respect between the parties.
The ECCC was jointly developed by a working group of commercial energy comparators, energy retailers, and energy consumer advocates, in consultation with the broader energy sector, Government, regulators, and other related stakeholders between 2014-15.
Effective codes require a means to sanction non‑compliance and this has the potential to put them in breach of the competition requirements of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). In 2017-18, the Consumer Policy Research Centre and Sales Assured Limited sought to work with industry to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework with a view to seeking ACCC accreditation – a means to ensure signatories were complying with the terms of the code. At the ECCC forum hosted by CPRC in February 2018, all participants – including ECCC signatories, industry partners, regulators and community organisations agreed that the ECCC was not meeting its objectives.
Unfortunately, subsequent efforts to secure funding to deliver this framework from various sources have been unsuccessful, which means CPRC can no longer be involved in administering the ECCC. The ECCC has now been handed back the signatories and industry partners to progress further.
In the meantime, the ECCC remains without a monitoring and evaluation framework, providing little assurance that signatories adhere to the terms of the ECCC.
CPRC recommends that:
- the ECCC signatories and industry partners seek to fund the work program required to provide this framework with the intent to secure accreditation from the ACCC.
- the ECCC signatories advise the ACCC and other regulators on the progress of this work program.
- In the absence of this work program to deliver the monitoring framework, CPRC recommends alternate regulatory protections.
Members of the working group: Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre (Chair), Public Interest Advocacy Centre, South Australian Council of Social Service, Origin Energy, Lumo Energy, Energy Assured Limited, iSelect, Energy Deal, Electricity Wizard, Switchwise, ACCC (Observer).