For anyone that has ever used an online comparison service run by iSelect (ASX: ISU), the abundance of disclaimers you have to click through and agree to when their call centre contacts you will make a lot more sense after they reached an $8.5m settlement for disclosure breaches dating back to 2016.
The breaches related to misleading information presented by iSelect which encouraged users to change energy plans for customers in New South Wales. Specifically, iSelect did not present all applicable energy plans offered by its energy partner retailers, which meant consumers were not presented with the best plans that would have been available to them.
After the matters were brought to the attention of iSelect by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the competition watchdog launched court proceedings against iSelect.
Through internal investigations, iSelect identified the issue arising as a result of a “coding error” in their algorithm.
Following a lengthy but cooperative investigation into iSelect’s activities, a settlement has today been reached with the ACCC which will see iSelect pay a penalty of $8.5 million over the next three years.
“iSelect was not upfront with consumers that it wasn’t comparing all plans offered by its partner retailers,” said ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims.
“In fact, about 38 per cent of people who compared electricity plans with iSelect at that time may have found a cheaper plan if they had shopped around.”
Earning commissions from the retailers when customers selected the plan under the assumption they were getting the best deal available, iSelect did not contest responsibility for errors in their algorithms.
Once the coding flaws were brought to the attention of iSelect, the company made all efforts to correct the breaches by offering affected consumers an option to walk away from binding contracts.
Through FY20, iSelect reported $123m in revenue for the year but a net loss of $43.5m, significantly impacted by non-cash impairment of $18.8m and failed iMoney trading losses and impairment of $23.1m.
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