Exploding electricity and gas prices: customers can do that now
Created: 01/14/2022Updated: 01/14/2022 16:51
The prices for electricity and gas have risen drastically in some cases recently.
But consumers can protect themselves from the cost explosion.
Munich - Many consumers are currently receiving unpleasant letters from their electricity and gas providers: Massive price increases or termination are announced there.
The reason for this is a historical increase in the prices for gas and electricity on the stock exchange.
However, customers do not have to accept a lot, as Marion Gaksch, a lawyer at the Bavarian Consumer Advice Centre, explains.
Is the termination of the provider legal?
If it is an ordinary termination, i.e. according to the notice period or at the end of the contract, yes.
But unlike consumers, energy suppliers have no special right of termination.
This means that customers have the right to the provision of energy at the agreed price for the entire contract period.
If the supplier does not deliver, consumers have the right to compensation.
This also applies to the providers Stromio, gas.de and Grünwelt.
According to a report by Spiegel, the Federal Network Agency is currently investigating suspicions about these discount providers.
They are said to have terminated hundreds of thousands of electricity and gas customers in order to sell their contingents profitably to large customers.
Is the utility price increase legal?
This must also be regulated in the contract, for example in the general terms and conditions.
If this is the case, you always have to check whether there is a price guarantee clause.
Because then, for example, the first 12 months are cheaper than the rest of the contract period.
If the price increase is legal, there are no limits to the amount.
In the event of a price increase, customers have a special right of termination and can look for another provider.
If the price increase is unacceptably high, customers can consider pulling the ripcord and canceling without switching providers.
However, it is important not to reduce the payments on your own initiative.
A corresponding bad rating at the Schufa can no longer be undone.
What happens after termination?
Consumers without an energy provider automatically end up in the backup supply, which means that gas and electricity are always flowing.
This is the legally guaranteed emergency supply from the largest local provider.
He informs consumers in writing that they are now in his care.
The replacement supply runs for a maximum of three months.
At the latest thereafter – or at any time during the process – consumers can book a new tariff.
If they don't, they automatically switch to the basic service - even if the suppliers don't want to take on any new customers, which is often the case at the moment.
Why can the primary suppliers deliver?
A distinction must be made between the basic service and special contracts. Basic suppliers are mostly municipal utilities such as SWM or large providers such as ESB. Consumers cannot choose their default supplier, it is determined by the network operator. They are legally required to provide energy to every household in their area - that is the basic service. If consumers lose their supplier, for example because they have not paid their grid fees, they automatically switch to alternative supply. This is like a three-month basic supply on trial. During this time, customers must conclude a new tariff or automatically switch to the basic service. In order to do justice to their mandate, the basic suppliers operate very carefully and buy their energy years in advance to ensure stable prices.This makes basic services relatively expensive. That is why both basic suppliers and other providers offer special contracts. These are the ones consumers find on comparison sites. These are cheaper for competitive reasons, because of longer terms or certain purchasing strategies. This principle is taken to extremes by the discount providers in order to be considered the cheapest supplier. But this strategy is currently firing back and the providers are passing the high prices on to their customers unfiltered – or they have to cancel because they can no longer fulfill the promised contracts.cheaper because of longer terms or certain purchasing strategies. This principle is taken to extremes by the discount providers in order to be considered the cheapest supplier. But this strategy is currently firing back and the providers are passing the high prices on to their customers unfiltered – or they have to cancel because they can no longer fulfill the promised contracts.cheaper because of longer terms or certain purchasing strategies. This principle is taken to extremes by the discount providers in order to be considered the cheapest supplier. But this strategy is currently firing back and the providers are passing the high prices on to their customers unfiltered – or they have to cancel because they can no longer fulfill the promised contracts.
How expensive is the basic service?
Usually more expensive than the special contracts, but often cheaper due to the current market situation.
However, some suppliers have now set significantly higher tariffs for the replacement supply in order to protect their existing customers.
Because for new customers they would have to buy energy at the wholesale markets at a very high price.
The consumer advice center NRW recently warned three suppliers.
Courts will probably have to clarify that.
How should consumers behave now?
First of all, they should read their meter readings at every step, i.e. termination, entry into the replacement supply and conclusion of the contract.
Otherwise your supplier estimates the consumption.
Then you have to see whether there is a breach of contract on the part of the supplier.
This gives rise to claims for damages, such as the difference between the agreed tariff and the price of the replacement supply.
You have to tell the provider, preferably by registered mail.
And if the provider intervenes?
If he disputes the claims, consumers can seek legal action at www.schlichtungsstelle-energie.de. It's free and most of the time, the suppliers cave in and agree to a settlement. It is important to check whether the money actually arrives in the account on time and whether all agreed bonuses and discounts are included. Otherwise, consumers can apply for a court order. Providers often try to offer customers an only marginally better contract. Consumers should not sign anything until they have made a detailed comparison. After that, you can look around at your leisure for a cheaper rate. However, this is currently difficult because many providers do not take new customers. It can be worth sticking with the basic service until the market has calmed down.
Some utilities are now filing for bankruptcy.
This is unfavorable for customers with claims for damages.
In this case, consumers must take the civil law route and possibly hire a lawyer to enforce the claims in the insolvency proceedings.
However, this does not always work and should be carefully considered: If there is not enough money, consumers are left with their claims and legal fees.
What do you have to consider when signing a new contract?
As the current cases show, the cheapest provider does not have to be the best.
However, a rule of thumb is: If the market prices are high, you should not commit yourself for a long time and should not accept a fixed price clause.
If the prices are low, it makes sense to secure these conditions for a long time.
Read more about what drives consumers here.