Small businesses working from private homes should have consumer energy contracts
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is calling on energy suppliers to offer consumer protection to small businesses that buy energy for their homes, mostly for private use. This means that, among other consequences, energy suppliers should charge this group, which includes many independent contractors, a lower termination fee. ACM has sent a letter to all energy suppliers, explaining its call. ACM may impose fines or orders subject to periodic penalty payments.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: ‘When consumers conclude energy contracts for their homes, and use this energy mostly for private purposes, they are considered consumers. They are entitled to consumer protection. Business contracts are not reasonable for consumers: for example, termination fees in business contracts are higher than those in consumer contracts.’
Energy supplier TGPNL has made commitments to ACM
ACM has received many reports that energy suppliers offer business contracts to small businesses that buy energy for their private homes. In 2018, ACM conducted an investigation into energy supplier Total Gas & Power Nederland BV’s (TGPNL) compliance with consumer protection rules when supplying energy to small businesses at their private homes. During this investigation, TGPNL made a commitment to ACM offering consumer protection to those customers who are attracted by TGPNL for energy at their private homes, and who use this energy for private purposes. Furthermore, TGPNL will financially compensate a large group of customers who have already left TGPNL. TGPNL also committed to adjusting the terms and conditions for existing customers who are currently supplied energy to their private homes on business contracts, but who use this energy for private purposes. TGPNL will bring these contracts in line with consumer protection rules. ACM has declared these commitments binding on TGPNL.