Obtaining Explicit Informed Consent: A Compliance Guide for Energy Retailers

Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook

The Essential Services Commission’s Guideline 4 on explicit informed consent requirements under the Energy Retail Code of Practice is a very useful resource for energy sellers in Victoria. This article summarises the key steps energy sellers must follow to comply with their obligations to obtain explicit informed consent from customers.

What is Explicit Informed Consent?

Explicit informed consent requires the customer to clearly understand the information relevant to the transaction and purpose of their consent. The retailer must:

  • Disclose all relevant information to the customer clearly, fully and adequately in plain English
  • Provide the information in a manner the customer can understand
  • Give the customer the chance to ask questions and clarify any aspects they are unsure about
  • Obtain the consent in writing, verbally or by electronic communication generated by the customer

When Explicit Consent is Required?

The Energy Retail Code requires explicit informed consent in relation to (inter alia):

  • Providing information via electronic communications
  • Entering into a new contract
  • Transferring to a new plan with the same retailer
  • Using certain billing methods like estimation or alternative cycles
  • Entering into direct debit arrangements
  • Transferring the customer to a new retailer
  • Deregistering life support equipment requirements

How to Obtain Explicit Informed Consent?

a. Disclose all relevant information clearly and adequately

  • Use plain English and avoid complex legal jargon
  • Ensure that all matters that are required to be disclosed are disclosed
  • Give the customer the opportunity to ask questions and to confirm their understanding
  • Read out information at an understandable pace on calls
  • Make translations or interpreters available where required
  • Identify the retailer and provide contact details

b. Allow the customer to clarify any aspects they are unsure about

  • Pause recordings at logical intervals to allow questions
  • Answer any questions or concerns raised by the customer

c. Obtain consent through writing, verbally or by electronic communication

  • Record verbal consent to allow verification
  • Store records for at least 2 years
  • Provide customers access to consent records on request

d. Confirm customer competence to provide informed consent

  • Watch for any signs of limited competence
  • Transactions are void if customer was not competent

Verification and quality assurance calls

Verification processes are critical when it comes to explicit informed consent. For example, a retailer who simply accepts online sign-ups without confirming that the relevant customer had the capacity to provide consent and was in fact the customer is significantly more likely to breach the explicit informed consent obligations than those retailers who also confirm the customer’s consent via other means.

By following these steps, energy retailers can reduce the likelihood of no compliance with the explicit informed consent obligations and gain valid and informed consent from customers. Maintaining procedures to obtain and record consent provides protection in case of any disputes.

More to explorer

Window lights in multistorey house at night, Kuala Lumpur

A Guide to the Role of the Metering Coordinator

In the complex landscape of the electricity market, the role of the Metering Coordinator (MC) is crucial for ensuring the accurate measurement and efficient coordination of metering services. With the National Electricity Rules (NER) as the guiding framework, AEMO has published a guide to the role of a metering coordinator and this article serves as a summary of that role drawing on the guide. Understanding the Purpose and Scope: The Guide to the Role of the Metering Coordinator is specifically

Digital electric meters in a row measuring power use. Electricity consumption concept.

Roles and Functions in Electricity Metering: A Short Guide

Electricity metering is a complex process that requires the collaboration of various entities to ensure accurate measurement and efficient energy management. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of these entities is crucial for maintaining compliance and facilitating the smooth functioning of the electricity market. In this article, we will explore in detail the key roles in electricity metering, including Financially Responsible Market Participants (FRMPs), Metering Coordinators (MCs), Metering Providers (MPs), and Metering Data Providers (MDPs), as outlined in Chapter 7 of

Preparing to Apply for a Retailer Authorisation: A Comprehensive Guide

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) oversees the authorisation process for energy retailers in Australia. If you’re considering joining this market, it’s crucial to understand the AER’s guidelines and requirements. This article will outline the preparatory steps your business needs to take before applying for a retailer authorisation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *