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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Electricity providers - UOKiK's decisions

< previous | next > 23.02.2018

Electricity providers - UOKiK's decisions
  • Sales representatives were offering annexes to existing agreements and reduced electricity bills. Instead, the consumers signed agreements with new providers and were paying more.
  • UOKiK has issued decisions concerning three electricity providers: Energetyczne Centrum, Novum and Energa-Obrót.
  • Entrepreneurs undertook to compensate those consumers who might have been misled and filed complaints. All agreement termination fees paid by the customers will be redeemed or refunded.

Representatives of this company, who visited me at home, offered cheaper electricity and claimed that (…) the provider would remain unchanged, with the price reduction being the only modification - this is just one of many complaints received by UOKIK, consumer ombudsmen and the Energy Regulatory Office

Misleading information

The authors of those complains claimed that they had been misled by the following electricity providers: Novum, Energetyczne Centrum (this particular entrepreneur is
a natural gas provider too) and Energa-Obrót
. Representatives of those companies, when visiting consumers at home, were claiming to represent their current electricity provider. They informed the consumers that their agreements needed to be amended, inter alia due to the fact that an annex was required, that legal regulations had changed or that the current electricity provider had been liquidated. The sales representatives ensured that the change would also result in lower electricity bills. Agents of Energetyczne Centrum threatened that failure to sign documents would result in electricity being cut off. After some time it turned out that the consumers were signing agreements with new undertakings. Instead of enjoying financial benefits, they had to pay higher monthly electricity bills.

An excerpt from one of the complaints: The prices were to get lower, and they are now 100% higher. So far I was paying between PLN 50 and 70 per month for electricity, and bills issued by Novum exceed PLN 100.

Furthermore, Novum and Energetyczne Centrum failed to inform the consumers that they would have to pay two invoices per month. One for energy distribution, issued by the previous operator, and the other for energy sold - from the new undertaking. Customers of Energa-Obrót and Energetyczne Centrum, in turn, were required to bear the cost of an additional handling charge.

“The fact that the proposals were made mainly to the elderly is highly condemnable. Entrepreneurs could have taken advantage of the fact that seniors trust other people and seldom suspect that a well-dressed salesperson may be misleading them” - says
Marek Niechciał, the President of UOKiK.

The Authority has also questioned the fact that entrepreneurs were not leaving the signed documents with consumers (Energetyczne Centrum, Energa-Obrót), did not inform them about their right to withdraw from the agreement (Energetyczne Centrum, Novum) and failed to provide an agreement withdrawal form (Energetyczne Centrum). According to the law, the consumer may withdraw from an agreement concluded outside the premises of the entrepreneur (e.g. during a sales representative’s visit at their home) within the period of 14 days. The manner in which the undertakings were operating hindered the withdrawal from the agreement.

Additionally, Energetyczne Centrum failed to accept agreement withdrawal declarations submitted within the statutory deadline. Despite the fact that such documents were sent by consumers, the company continued with the process of changing the provider and issued requests for payment. The entrepreneur was also failing to inform consumers that the insurance protection and private medical care packages were offered against an additional fee.

In its decision concerned with Energa-Obrót, the Authority has also questioned the undertaking’s practices relied upon during sales calls. The representatives of the company were failing to inform, inter alia, about the additional handling fee added to the bill.

Obligation of Energetyczne Centrum

The company has undertaken to discontinue the practices questioned. It will reimburse the consumers who have terminated their agreements for all the costs they have borne or will redeem them. Additionally, PLN 30 in compensation will be paid to such consumers. The amount of PLN 15, in turn, will be received by all those who have managed to withdraw from the agreement within the legally permitted deadline, or whose agreements have expired. The above applies to customers who filed - within one year from concluding the agreement - a complaint about the practices questioned, directly with the entrepreneur, UOKiK, Energy Regulatory Office or a consumer protection organization. If, despite failing a complaint, the consumers have extended the term of the agreement, they will receive PLN 30 in compensation.

Obligation of Novum

The company’s obligation relates, inter alia, to those customers who filed a complaint within 4 months from signing the agreement. Those consumers will be also eligible for compensation who filed a complaint later - provided that they did not sign, while concluding the agreement, a statement acknowledging, inter alia, that Novum is a competitor of other energy providers. 

Consumers who meet those conditions and still are the company’s customers will be able to terminate the agreement fee of charge. Those who have paid or intended to pay for terminating the agreement will be reimbursed for those costs (which may be also redeemed), and will receive PLN 46.13 in compensation. The same amount will be received by those who have managed to withdraw from their agreement without any additional costs, or if they extended the term of the agreement (or if the agreement expired) following the submission of the complaint.

Energetyczne Centrum and Novum must inform their consumers, by mail, about the obligations they have assumed, and are required to submit a report on its fulfillment to UOKiK.

Obligation of Energa-Obrót

The customers of Energa-Obrót may count on PLN 56 in compensation. Such an amount will be offered to those who have been misled during the representative’s visit, provided that they had filed, to the company, a relevant complaint about that fact. The above applies regardless of whether they still are customers of Energa-Obrót or not.

Damages in the same amount will be also paid to all those who decided to take advantage of the Fixed Price Guarantee, as they were not informed about the extra handling fee.
A new offering will be proposed to them as well, and they will be able to terminate the agreement and take advantage of another offering or tariff of Energa-Obrót. Changing the electricity provider will be an option too.

The company will inform its consumers, by mail, of the monetary compensation scheme and will inform about the Authority’s decision on its website. It will be also required to submit a report summarizing the fulfillment of its obligations.

Thanks to the obligations imposed on entrepreneurs, consumers who were required to bear significant expenses related to the termination of their agreements, will be refunded the money they had to spend. In addition, they will be provided with a monetary compensation” – says Marek Niechciał, the President of UOKiK.

Detailed information about the obligations imposed on Energetyczne Centrum, Novum and Energa-Obrót may be found in the decisions published on UOKiK’s website.

The decisions referred to above are final, which means that the entrepreneurs must commence the process of complying with their obligations.

Beware of telecommunications services and electricity provision agreements!

In the past, the Authority issued decisions concerned with other electricity providers who had been misleading consumers. For instance, such companies as Polski Prąd and Multimedia Polska Energia undertook, last year, to modify their practices. Furthermore, in December 2016 UOKiK imposed a financial penalty of over PLN 10 million on another entrepreneur, namely Polski Prąd i Gaz. This decision is not final. Additionally, the Energy Regulatory Office is conducting a procedure concerned with revoking the electricity trading license held by this particular entrepreneur.

The problem of unknown sales representatives impersonating the personnel of current providers is common especially in electricity and telecommunications sectors. I would like to ask the elderly to display utmost caution when concluding agreements of this type. They need to bear in mind that no one is obliged to sign the agreement in the presence of the sales representative. You are advised to ask the person paying the visit to leave their contact details or the wording of the agreement they propose. Then, you have to verify carefully who you are dealing with. The best solution is to call your current provider (the number may be found on the invoice) and ask if it was their representative who visited you at home. Consumers are also encouraged to submit complaints with entrepreneurs who have misled us. Complaints filed by consumers may later serve as a basis for shaping UOKiK’s decisions about entrepreneurs’ obligations” – recommends Marek Niechciał, the President of UOKiK.

Consumers are also reminded that they can rely, free of charge, on assistance offered by consumer ombudsmen and consumer organizations. Advice is also provided by the Information Point for Energy and Gas Fuel Consumers operating at the Energy Regulatory Office.

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: 695 902 088; 22 55 60 430
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

 

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