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NMa: large differences in timeliness scores for energy bills

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) is satisfied with the high percentage of bills which energy providers and network operators now manage structurally to deliver on time. The scorecard for the first quarter of 2007, however, also shows that there still is a large divide between the majority of companies and those lagging behind.

Sound competition requires consumers to trust the timeliness and accuracy of billing procedures with energy providers. Bearing this in mind, the Office of Energy Regulation (DTe) has set a high benchmark for the timeliness of administrative processes, which stands at 98 per cent. ICT innovations still all too often adversely affect the services provided to end users. In the period under scrutiny also, changes in ICT at a number of companies led to delays in the billing process. NRE Energie could not provide reliable scores due to system modifications. The NMa takes the view that this must not continue to be an excuse for under par results and has come to a series of agreements on the improvement of services with the companies concerned.

Through the consumer helpdesk ConsuWijzer, the NMa has also received many complaints on inaccurate billing. Part of these complaints pertain to the use of estimated meter readings. The NMa will continue its effort to point out to network operators, providers and end users their responsibility for the timely provision of actual meter readings in case of switches, changes of address and annual settlements. In addition, the NMa has established by means of explorative research into the accuracy of bills that the billing process is a complex one and prone to mistakes. The NMa will continue to monitor the accuracy of bills and is now in consultation with the energy sector to ensure that consumers also are given the opportunity to verify energy bills in an improved way.