Energy businesses do not have free reign to market and advertise their services and products however they would like. Marketing and advertising is regulated by a range of rules, some that apply specifically to energy businesses, and some that apply generally to businesses in Australia.
Here we set out the main rules that apply to the marketing of energy, both by energy retailers and third-party energy marketers or sellers. We also identify who consumers may complain to, if they think these rules have been breached.
In all states and territories that have adopted the National Energy Customer Framework or ‘NECF’ (Queensland, NSW, ACT, South Australia and Tasmania), rules for marketing and advertising are set out in:
There are also some small state-based variations, such as those set out in the NSW Social Programs for Energy Code, which restricts the way in which grants, rebates and concessions may be referred to in marketing activities.
For more information about the marketing and advertising framework in NECF, see Energy marketing—what are your rights?
The rules in Victoria are primarily set out in the Energy Retail Code, clauses 63-70.
As Western Australian and the Northern Territory do not have energy retail competition there are fewer marketing and advertising restrictions in those jurisdictions.
The ‘energy marketing rules’, as set out in clauses 62-70 of the National Energy Retail Rules, specify the most important restrictions on marketing to consumers in NECF jurisdictions. These include requirements to:
In addition to energy-sector specific rules, all energy businesses need to comply with a range of other marketing laws, regulations and rules that apply across industries. These include:
First port of call for complaints, should be to the energy businesses themselves. All of them should have dispute resolution procedures in place (for retailers, this is a legal requirement).
If you are unsatisfied with your response, you could make a complaint to the energy ombudsman in your state or territory.
For breach of the ACL, complaints can be made to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (‘ACCC’). In addition, depending on the complaint, you may be able to complain to the fair trading agency in your state of territory such as NSW Fair Trading and the Queensland Office of Fair Trading.
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