Commerce Commission v Contact Energy [2020] NZDC 4415

Published 10 September 2020

Sentencing — false or misleading representation in connection with the promotion of supply or services — smartfuel rewards scheme — failing to disclose qualifications on offers — Fair Trading Act 1986. The defendant company appeared for sentence on seven charges of making a false or misleading representation in connection with the promotion of services. The charges arose from the offers the defendant made as part of its participation in the AA Smartfuel rewards scheme. It offered a monthly discount of 30 cents per litre on fuel for its customers who signed up to a new plan, and also offered a smaller fuel discount for customers who kept the plan that they had. However the defendant failed to disclose qualifications on the offers, that related to monthly maximums that restricted the size of discounts available to its customers. The defendant had accepted that its failure to disclose the qualifications was misleading. The Court characterised the defendant's conduct as "moderately careless." The start point for fine was $350,000, with reductions for cooperation and guilty pleas reducing the final fine to $245,000, plus Court costs of $130. Judgment Date: 4 March 2020