ACM: Transparency of heat bills still comes up short

Consumers that are connected to a heat network for their tap water and space heating must be given clear and transparent information from their heat suppliers about the costs of their heat consumption. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has conducted an investigation into the transparency of heat bills. The investigation revealed that half of the investigated heat suppliers send bills that meet the transparency requirements. The other investigated heat suppliers still send their customers bills that are not transparent, and therefore do not comply with the rules. ACM takes action against such practices.

ACM launched the investigation into heat bills, because its consumer information portal ACM ConsuWijzer had received many reports and questions about non-transparent heat bills. That is why, in December 2020, ACM reminded heat suppliers of the requirements that heat bills must meet, and ACM also announced it would take enforcement action. Heat suppliers must send their customers an annual bill once a year. This bill must clearly indicate how much heat was consumed, and what costs the user must pay. When presenting the costs, suppliers must clearly indicate whether these costs are fixed or variable.

Companies sending bills that do not meet the rules, for example, only present amounts on the bills excluding VAT or fail to explain clearly what energy units they use. In the latter example, it is not sufficiently clear whether an amount must be paid per day or per gigajoule (GJ). In addition, some suppliers combine different cost items or they charge an average consumption rate without explaining how that average was calculated. Investigated heat suppliers sending bills that do not meet the rules are still required to adjust these within 3 weeks. If they fail to do so, ACM will take enforcement action. ACM will also continue to check the transparency of heat bills.

On the website of ACM ConsuWijzer, consumers are able to find what costs should be included in heat bills, and what users can do if they do not agree with the costs that they have been charged. ACM is calling on consumers to submit reports to ACM ConsuWijzer if they believe their bills do not meet the transparency requirements.

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