As competition intensifies on the Slovak electricity and gas markets, some of the practices being employed by suppliers have come under question, and now the first lawsuit has led to a preliminary injunction being imposed on electricity supplier ZSE. Here TheDaily provides you with its own translation of an article today from daily Pravda.
Court prohibits ZSE from luring disloyal customers
The dominant supplier of electricity in West Slovakia will no longer be able to lure departing customers back so easily. This is because the court issued a preliminary injunction ordering the company ZSE Energia to stop advising customers on how to cancel their contracts with one of the alternative suppliers, Energetické centrum. “ZSE Energia did not caution customers that from the side of the new supplier they could be fined for such a move”, emphasised executive director of Energetické centrum, Žanet Müllerová.
The procedure of the West Slovakia dominant energy company judges also the other alternative energy sellers. “We welcome this decision of the court, because the company used the same methods against all alternative suppliers, whereby it effectively and apparently illegally held back liberalisation of the market with electricity”, feels representative of Slovakia Energy, Richard Štrégl.
Criticism also came from representatives of the companies ČEZ, Vaša Energia and Magna E. A. “From the side of ZSE, we regard it as unfair that it sends all departing customers the same documents for cancelling requests for a change of supplier”, adds Rastislav Borovský from the company Magna E. A.
Ján Orlovský from Západoslovenska energetika claims that the company accepts the decision of the court, while rejecting claims that it is misleading. “Published information and the cautions from the side of ZSE Energia were based on concrete experiences of our customers, whereby it already cautioned also the regulatory authority URSO about the practices of sales representatives in the sale of electricity in the past”, argues Orlovský. He adds that Energetické centrum is the only company on the energy market that felt it necessary to go through the courts to resolve the warning to customers about what to be careful about or what they should avoid when concluding new contracts.
A similar situation happened last year when ZSE Energia attracted departing customers with a discount on the supply of electricity while refusing to provide other clients with the same discount. Only the company ČEZ Slovensko sent a complaint to the Anti-trust Office at the time, with the justification that it could constitute abuse of a dominant position on the market. Investigation of the case is still ongoing.
After the first partial success, Energetické centrum wants to open lawsuits also with other traditional energy sellers. “We apply the same approach also towards the other dominant supplier on the market, considering the fact that they behave similarly” warns Müllerová. It remains to be seen, though, if it will have the same success with the other companies.
For example, according to the spokesman of SPP, Peter Bednár, the company does not send letters with forms for cancelling a change of supplier. “Many customers turn to our company with the request for assistance in resolving complications and uncertainties. We never try to convince a customer who has decided for another supplier to change supplier back again”, emphasised Bednár.
“Our actions have always been in line with the law, we always act fairly”, says Andrea Danihelová from Východoslovenska energetika. “We offer customers new better products, services and bonuses, for example. We will continue to do this” she adds. Similarly, representative of Stredoslovenska energetika, Jana Bolibruchová, underlined that the company focuses on customers and their satisfaction, and on the offer of products and services.
It is still questionable as to how the lawsuit between Energeticke centrum and ZSE will end. The preliminary injunction is only the first step, by which the court ordains for companies how they are to behave until a final verdict is issued. In this case, some alternative suppliers are encouraged by Energetické centrum. When luring clients, however, it warns that door-to-door sellers of the company are using unfair practices and lying to people.
Daily Pravda informed in the past already about warnings from readers, who complained, for example, about pressure from employees of Energetické centrum or about incorrect information. For example, sellers claimed to one of the potential clients that they are employees of the traditional supplier, which is changing name and so it is necessary to sign a new contract. Nevertheless, Žanet Müllerová claims that in all cases the company prohibits its sellers from misleading people, and so this concerns an individual failure of specific sellers.
Source: PRAVDA, Author: Michal Holeš
So customers can face financial penalties for changing supplier – how typical of this country. The customer has the right to change supplier, at any time, for any reason ( given or not given) without fear of being charged. Giving the customer choice is a watse of time if, when they exercise that choice, the can be out of pocket. If all outstanding fees and tarifs are billed or paid upto the last date of supply then changing supplier should be no more than a phone call or a couple of mouse clicks – like it is in most other countries. Trust the Sk to take a fairly simple, common, everyday procedure and make it as complicated as possible.
As for the dodgy practises of the suppliers, nothing new there then. Try buying anything in this country and most sales staff will lie through their back teeth to secure a sale. Hows about a code of ethics? – that is if anyone knows what ethics are!