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In addition, such a procedure may be against the law. “If a consumer appeals to ERO and complains about multiple increases in advance payments, it is typically the spot product that is behind it. Today, these are particularly popular with smaller suppliers who do not have sufficient financial reserves and pass the risk of price fluctuations on to customers,” said ERÚ Council member Ladislav Havel.
In addition, suppliers sometimes try to “hook” their clients on a simple notification that looks like a minor modification of the contractual terms. At the same time, they make excuses for the extraordinary situation on the energy market. However, customers do not have to do this, officials warn.
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The question is whether people already have such an obligation stated in the original contract. “It’s all a question of the original contract, whether such a significant change is expressly allowed by the supplier,” confirmed ERÚ Council member Markéta Zemanová. “Simplified, one could say that the supplier is offering a completely new contract, and he cannot do that just like that. They have to come to an agreement with the consumer and get their consent,” she explained.
Amendment to the Energy Act
Dissatisfied people, who are trying to get money from energy distributors in this way, are also turning to the consumer organization dTest. Its experts confirm that suppliers cannot unilaterally change contractual terms in this way. “The problem is that consumers are so often uncertain and scared that they do not defend themselves against the progress of energy suppliers and accept the new conditions,” said dTest director Eduarda Hekšová.
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It should help consumers defend their rights against energy distributors amendment to the Energy Act, which was adopted last Friday in an accelerated mode by the Chamber of Deputies. “As soon as the amendment to the law comes into effect, consumers will be given the opportunity to terminate the contract with spot prices more quickly,” said Hekšová. “It is, of course, a question whether other contracts will be available for new customers on the market,” she pointed out.
Hekšová believes that the government’s promised ceiling on energy prices from January next year will also help customers. According to her, customers should still try to save as much as possible on electricity and gas. “The capped prices are not low, and the majority of consumers for whom the ceiling will be applied will not be able to waste energy,” she added.