“The affected consumers have contracted fixed-price products with this energy supplier. However, at the moment when the original fixed contracts were no longer advantageous for him, the supplier tried to transfer customers to other products at significantly higher prices,” said Stanislav Trávníček, chairman of the ERÚ Council.
According to the authority, Armex Energy wanted to change fixed products to so-called spot products, the price of which changes continuously according to developments on the stock exchange. From the essence of the matter, according to ERO, this is the exact opposite of the fixations to which consumers were entitled according to the concluded contracts.
At the same time, in letters to customers, the supplier stated that if the clients do not agree with the transition to spot prices, they can either choose an alternative price product or terminate the contractual relationship.
The number of inspections of energy suppliers increased sharply during the crisis, ERO handed out millions in fines
“The Armex Energy company defended itself in the administrative proceedings by saying that, among other things, the general business conditions authorized it to make such a unilateral change to the contract,” said ERÚ Council member Markéta Zemanová.
“However, the general terms and conditions valid at the time the affected consumers signed the contracts did not contain similar provisions. The supplier only changed them after the fact, purely on purpose, just so that he would not have to keep his obligations,” added Zemanová.
According to the ERO, the supplier argued the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the energy crisis that was beginning at the time.
“Even the energy crisis cannot be an excuse for the supplier, as the stronger of the contracting parties, to flagrantly abuse its position against consumers,” said Trávníček.
“The nature and extent of the offense described is so serious that we proceeded to award a record sanction approaching the maximum limit of five million given by the Consumer Protection Act,” he added.
Changing the supplier can save tens of thousands on energy costs
In addition to these unfair business practices, the ERO’s decision also took into account the use of aggressive business practices, which the company committed in three cases. In them, she demanded payment for the energy she supplied to customers without the customers ordering it.
In another 15 documented cases, the company violated the energy law when it did not comply with the standard of the period for processing billing complaints.
The case of a higher fine thus surpassed the highest sanction imposed by the ERO in 2019 on the company Stabil Energy. He fined her four million crowns for unfair business practices. The company lost its license a year later.
Armex Energy is an electricity and gas supplier, it says on its website that it has almost 80,000 customers.
In addition, it also deals with the sale of fuel and the operation of gas stations, Travel Free stores, casinos, development activities, as well as hotel and gastronomy.
The headquarters of the company is in Děčín. The company’s sales in 2021 amounted to over 2.2 billion crowns. The founder and majority owner of Armex Energy is businessman Hynek Sagan.