WA’s second-biggest gas retailer, Wesfarmers-owned Kleenheat, has paid $25,200 in penalties after being pursued by the competition regulator for false and misleading advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said an advertising campaign launched by Kleenheat last April was misleading as its offer of a 35 per cent discount on “gas charges” to new customers signing up to its monthly energiser plan only applied to the gas usage charge, not the supply charge or account service fee.

The ACCC also argued “that the overall impression created by the advertisements was that the discount would apply while the consumer remained a customer, when in fact the discount only applied for 12 months, after which it dropped to 25 per cent”.

Some of the advertisements, which ran across television, radio, Facebook, Spotify, billboards, bus panels and emails, detailed the charge regime under the attached terms and conditions while others included the details in fine print.

“The ACCC alleges that Kleenheat made representations to potential customers which were false and may have caused some people to switch their account to Kleenheat from other gas suppliers,” ACCC acting chairman Roger Featherston said.

“WA gas customers who saw the Kleenheat advertisements could easily have assumed the discount was permanent and applied to the entire bill,” Mr Featherston said.

“People who took up the plan saved about $40 less in the first year than they would have saved relying on Kleenheat’s claim of a 35 per cent saving on gas charges.

“Qualifications which explain the terms and conditions of a deal must be prominent and not only in fine print, so that consumers understand what the deal involves.”

Kleenheat expressed regret that any of its customers may have been confused by the advertising, adding that it had contacted affected customers and altered the advertising after being contacted by the ACCC.