Finnish Consumer Ombudsman takes Fi-Nergy Voima to Market Court
Topics: FINNISH FI-NERGY VOIMA
The Consumer Ombudsman will now take more robust measures and apply to the Market Court for the imposition of several separate prohibitions on the company.
The Consumer Ombudsman is seeking a conditional penalty payment of EUR 100,000 for each prohibition in order to reinforce them.
In January, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority reported on consumers’ problems with the electricity company.
As the problems have continued, the Consumer Ombudsman is now seeking the imposition of prohibitions on Fi-Nergy from the the Market Court.
The Consumer Ombudsman and the Consumer Advisory Services have been contacted by consumers an unprecedented number of times regarding Fi-Nergy’s activities.
During January and February 2020, consumers contacted the consumer authorities 460 times regarding Fi-Nergy, which is a completely exceptional number compared to other electricity sales companies.
In particular, the company's customers have reported errors in contracts and invoicing.
Consumers have found that it is almost impossible to contact Fi-Nergy's customer service to solve problems.
The Consumer Ombudsman is seeking the imposition of several prohibitions on Fi-Nergy, requesting each prohibition to be reinforced with a penalty payment of EUR 100,000.
The prohibitions that the authorities are seeking concern the company's invoicing and contract practices and the related customer communications.
Among other things, the Consumer Ombudsman requires that the Market Court prohibit Fi-Nergy from changing its terms and conditions without informing the customer of the change, its justification and any right to terminate the contract at least one month before the amendment enters into force.
In addition, the authorities are seeking a prohibition on the company’s practise of unilaterally converting contracts valid until further notice to contracts directly following fluctuations in the stock-market price of electricity
Fi-Nergy differs from other electricity companies in that it mainly charges its customers in advance.
Consumers have received invoices at random intervals, even though the invoicing interval has been set at two months, and invoices have been larger than the estimated annual electricity consumption.
In addition, customers have not received invoices based on actual consumption from the company at regular intervals.
The Consumer Ombudsman requires that the Market Court prohibit the company from operating in the ways mentioned above and that Fi-Nergy notify consumers of advance invoicing before contracts are concluded.
Fi-Nergy has also not submitted final invoices to its customers within six weeks of the termination of electricity supply in accordance with the Electricity Market Act.
In addition, customers had been made to wait several months for their advance payments to be reimbursed.
In fact, the Consumer Ombudsman requires in its petition that these practices be rectified.
Fi-Nergy shall reimburse its customers’ outstanding receivables no later than two weeks after the expiry of the six-week deadline for the delivery of the final invoice.
Once again, problems with Fi-Nergy show that complex services such as electricity supply contracts are not suitable for telephone sales.
Among other things, a new electricity supply contract may have been sold to the consumer even though the consumer has a valid fixed-term contract with another company.
The new agreement has been awaiting its start for over a year, during which the circumstances and, for example, the price have changed.
Fi-Nergy has also sold separate service contracts to consumers, which the company has begun invoicing before the electricity supply contract has entered into force. ■