Croatia: Power utility HEP accused by RWE on disturbing market competition

, SEE Energy News

State owned power utility company HEP has no agreement on a joint market approach to customers with any supplier in the electricity market, reacted HEP on the accusations coming from RWE Croatia on the obstructions of market competition.

“(HEP) strongly rejected accusations of RWE that they are obstructing the process of liberalization of the Croatian electricity market, as well as the claim that 50 percent of all users who want to switch to RWE cannot do so because of “various obstructions by HEP”. We stress that HEP welcomes the process of liberalization, but also condemns unfair, immoral and misleading sales methods used by a few suppliers, which include the impersonation, forgery of signatures, unauthorized entry into the homes of citizens, false discounts but also the conclusion of contracts with insufficiently informed senior citizens”, says in today’s statement by HEP that we quote below without amendments…

“HEP strongly rejects accusations of RWE that they are obstructing the process of liberalization of the Croatian electricity market. On the contrary the educational and information campaign that HEP ​​is conducting concerning the protection of consumer rights actually contributes to creating a mature and responsible market.

Informing customers about their rights when signing the contract on supply through field sales representatives, is HEP’s response to numerous inquiries from concerned customers, media and consumer associations. It is also the obligation arising from the regulations adopted by the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA), which refers not only to the HEP, but to all electricity suppliers in Croatia. In this sense, HEP calls for RWE, but other suppliers as well to respect the highest standards of consumer protection in their business operation that are valid in the European Union.

The reason for the current educational and information campaign was the fact that over the past months HEP received dozens of media inquiries and hundreds of complaints of citizens regarding the clearly unfair methods by which certain suppliers in the Croatian electricity market get new customers.

Often the sales agents of these suppliers present themselves as employees of HEP, seeking insight into the energy bills, access to the meter and the meter reading while claiming the connection and the business agreement with HEP on the common market approach. With cases of forgery of signatures of customers, HEP received complaints of customers who, after they refused to sign the contract, were subjected to verbal abuse and threats. What is significant is that the target group for such deceiving are generally elderly people. Often solicitors promise unrealistically low prices or alleged discounts as a reward for years of loyalty to HEP and regular settling of the electricity bills.

We emphasize that HEP has no agreement on a joint market approach to customers with any supplier in the electricity market and that deceptive and dishonest way of selling or supplying the end customer with the intent to mislead him in order to sign the contract constitutes a violation of the General Conditions for use of the network and electricity supply (NN 85/15), which stipulates that the buyer has the right, for any reason, to terminate the existing contract on electricity supply and conclude a new contract with the selected supplier in the electricity market. If the Contract on supply is concluded after October 1, 2015, all those customers who are in any way deceived or misled when signing have the right to unilaterally terminate the contract without penalty.

HEP operates in accordance with the Law on Electricity Market and Article 111 and 112 of the General Conditions, which is ultimately the responsibility of all suppliers in Croatia. In order to reduce fraud, HEP appeals to citizens to pay additional attention to information about the offers of market electricity suppliers and the signing of various documents. Extremely large number of complaints and the frequency of recorded claims for breach of contract with individual suppliers testify about the escalation of misleading conduct.

Therefore, we appeal to the competent institutions to engage in determining the scale of this phenomenon and to sanction those responsible in order to protect citizens, and to encourage deceived citizens to report their case to the nearest police station and the Croatian Energy Regulatory Agency (HERA). “, transmits