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Orders imposed on two energy suppliers for sending unclear bills

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed orders subject to periodic penalty payments on Dutch energy suppliers Fenor and Robin Energie because they continue to send unclear energy bills. Consumers are entitled to verifiable and clear energy bills. For example, Fenor and Robin Energie sent invoices where the tariffs were not clearly linked to their corresponding billing periods.

The orders subject to periodic penalty payments follow an investigation that ACM performed in 2017 into the clarity of the bills sent by 40 energy suppliers. Of the 40 energy suppliers that ACM investigated, 16 suppliers issued clear bills on the reference date of 1 July 2017.

Additionally, 21 suppliers still needed to take several steps in order to improve clarity. They had to do so before 2 February 2018.

Three providers performed so badly that ACM announced orders subject to periodic penalty payments. One of these three providers did amend its bills, and, in doing so, they were no longer in violation. This was not the case for Fenor and Robin Energie, and they consequently did get the order subject to periodic penalty payments. They must fulfil the order by 2 February 2018. For each day the order is not fulfilled after this date, they will have to pay a periodic penalty payment of EUR 1,000 each day up to a maximum of EUR 50,000.

Basic principles for clear energy bills

Energy bills must be easy-to-understand and their format must allow them to be easily linked to the contracts of customers and to notifications of price changes. ACM did not assess the accuracy of the bills.

Important basic principles in ACM’s assessment were:

  • Any prices that have been adjusted between annual bills must be listed separately on bills, and should not be listed as an average for the entire billing period. Otherwise, it is difficult for customers to see whether they have been charged the tariffs that had been agreed upon in the contract, and those that had been communicated in any notification of price changes.
  • Units used in bills must be the same as those used in contracts and notifications of price changes (for example, it is not allowed to use monthly rates in contracts, and daily rates in bills).