Energy giants in hot water over late fees

ENERGYAUSTRALIA and Origin may find themselves in the middle of a $100 million class action over late fees.

ACA Lawyers, the company locked in a legal battle with Telstra over overdue charges, intends to garner public interest in holding the electricity giants to account.

With the exception of Victoria, where late fees are banned, utility companies around Australia can charge customers as much as $14 if they pay late.

"If you wish to charge a late payment fee, you are entitled to," ACA principal Steven Lewis told News Corp. "But the amount must be related back to real costs caused by that late payment.

"We want to test the appetite of consumers" for taking on gas and electricity retailers. If the appetite is there, we intend to turn our attention to the utilities."