Energy retailer AGL has been fined $700,000 for misleading customers in South Australia about discounts on their power bills.
Thousands of them will be entitled to a refund, likely to be about $30.
The Federal Court imposed the penalty on Wednesday, ordering the energy retailer to also pay $780,000 in refunds and $300,000 in costs.
AGL says it did not intend to mislead consumers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which took the company to court, says about 23,000 customers are entitled to a refund.
The regulator alleged AGL offered discounts to some customers, only to then increase rates, which reduced or eliminated the effect of the discounts.
The company accepted it could have done a better job of explaining the impact of changes to energy plan rates in mid-2012.
‘Consumers who are eligible for a refund will be contacted. Refunds will vary depending on individual circumstances, but AGL anticipates the average refund will be around $30,’ the company said.
ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said discounted energy plans provided a competitive advantage to retailers.
‘However, the discounts on offer must be accurate and the express or implied savings real for customers,’ she said.