On Thursday, the Energy Regulatory Agency warned again that people shouldn’t believe in marketing pulls and read contracts with utility companies. The supervisory authorities warned in particular against companies that offer a fixation that they will subsequently change or resign. Armex Energy customers, for example, are now complaining about this very situation.
Armex Energy supplies around 60,000 customers with energy. It was its subsidiary Kolibřík Energy that had to cease its activities a few weeks ago due to the situation on the energy market and the fate of the Bohemia Energy group of companies followed.
At the same time, Armex Energy is currently attracting customers with an “easy way to stop paying advances in DPI mode”. It offers them three products – a contract for an indefinite period, a fixed product for 2022 and a product with a spot price – one that copies the currently very high energy prices on the stock exchange.
The latter product, which the Bohemia Energy Group also marketed on a large scale shortly before its end, is now the most popular at Armex Energy. “In the current energy crisis and exposed prices, however, the recommendation applies to the so-called spot product, which copies wholesale prices. Her side.
Of course, like food prices, says the supplier
Hynek Sagan, CEO and co-owner of Armex Energy, has a similar view. “There is fundamentally great interest in the spot product. This is also confirmed by our and external call centers. We handle several hundred calls a day asking them to switch from DPI and change suppliers, ”he told the online daily Aktuálně. .cz.
“We see the advantages of a spot product in the fact that the customer knows how much it costs today, and as soon as it gets cheaper, his wallet feels it. In addition, the customer can also see the provider’s margin on our tariff transparently. There is no contract between the retailer and the customer that the butter will be fixed at a certain price forever, ”argues Sagan.
However, Armex Energy goes one step further to give preference to this type of product – on November 15th it changed some of its customers’ terms and conditions and automatically converted them into spot prices.
According to the server Message list these were customers with long-term energy price control. The management did not answer the repeated question of the online daily Aktuálně.cz, on which product did the customers, whose terms and conditions Armex Energy changed, changed?
“Changing a product to a spot affects part of the customer base. We’re talking about a third of the total customer base, ”Sagan said. He added that there is still a period of time when customers can opt for a different type of product or switch to a different vendor with no penalty.
“Everyone is more expensive, people understand”
The head of Armex Energy argues when transferring customers that all suppliers have risen in price and people understand that “if the price jumped up to five times it might not be beneficial now, indefinitely at the guaranteed (fixed) price to hold on ”. . “Such a ‘guarantee’ has its price, of course, and it makes no sense to pay such a high price even in summer when the market is always ‘down’,” Sagan insists on his strategy.
Experts anticipate a price decline in the next year based on long-term contracts, but cannot predict it with any certainty. To clarify, it should be mentioned that a product with fixed energy prices is not negotiated for an indefinite period. On the contrary, their essence is to guarantee constant conditions and prices of energy supply for a period of time agreed in advance – usually for one to three years.
The consumer organization dTest has received 20 complaints about Armex Energy’s practices in the past three months. “Most of them aim at rising energy prices and fixed prices or at energy auctions, where Armex is usually a competitive supplier,” says Jaroslav Švehla on behalf of dTest.
The ERO recently recorded a significant increase in complaints about the premature termination of fixations. “Inquiries and complaints about the premature termination of fixings or the termination of fixed price contracts are now (from September until today) among the most common we have dealt with consumers. Although ERO warned against similar practices in September, this is no longer the case. ” only Bohemia Energy. People are also complaining about other companies, and in some cases the ERO has already started an investigation, ”says spokesman Michal Kebort.
“In individual cases it is always necessary to check the specific contract and the general terms and conditions that allow the provider or consumer. In the case of a fixed-term contract, the consumer should insist on the agreed terms and not agree to the change, ”Kebort recommends.
An unfair approach, warns ERO
Some providers also circumvent the principle of fixing by means of an open-ended contract – the provider cannot move the price, but he can simply terminate the contract as a whole, the ERO warns. If the product is no longer paid for to him, for example due to rising energy prices on the stock exchanges, he cancels the contract and cancels the entire product after the three-month statutory period has expired.
“The consumer is fundamentally the weaker party to the contract, as the law sees him. If the provider claims to the customer that it is a two-year fixation, but knows exactly that he does not have to adhere to the fixation due to exclusions or the form of the contract is certainly not fair. The same applies to the imposition of new contracts and changes if the supplier is not entitled to it only for them ”, emphasizes Ladislav Havel, member of the ERO Council.
In addition, according to the office, there are cases in which suppliers sell the so-called branch part, i.e. part of the company including its customers. The new provider then terminates existing contracts and forces consumers to enter into new contracts. However, if the contract does not contain any exclusions that the new contractor could apply, it cannot do so.
“The only protection against the wrongdoing of some providers is the caution, the need to carefully study the contract and the general terms and conditions. Only what is in it is actually checked, ”adds the office.
The ERO itself does not recommend any spot products. According to him, such offers can be dangerous in times of rising stock market prices.
“An example of a negative example is the difficulties faced by Spanish consumers, where similar contracts were widespread. The increase in this type of product is reflected almost immediately in the final price and it is up to the consumer to constantly monitor the development of the stock market. , ”Pointed out the office.
The most popular products from energy suppliers
- Energy price fixing for one or more years: Fixing electricity prices means that the customer concludes a contract with the provider for a certain period of time – usually for 12, 24 or 36 months. As a result, he loses the opportunity to change provider during this time, and on the other hand he receives a guaranteed amount of electricity prices. A fixed-term contract can usually only be terminated before it expires with the payment of an often high contractual penalty. In addition, even fixing the price does not always mean that the price cannot go up in the future. It is therefore necessary that the person who is interested in the product carefully studies all the conditions. This means that you carefully read not only the contract, but also the terms and conditions and the price list.
- Contract for an indefinite period: Contract for an indefinite period it’s usually cheaper than a fixation product, but it still doesn’t guarantee prices. The supplier can change the prices according to the current price list. On the other hand, the customer can change suppliers at any time. However, a three-month notice period is to be expected.
- Ridiculous price: It is a product where prices are calculated according to a formula that directly takes into account the current electricity or gas price on the exchange. This strategy can pay off when energy prices are stable or falling. On the contrary, with a record increase in energy prices it can become problematic.