ČEZ headquarters in Prague – illustrative photo.
Prague – Unfair practices of fraudulent traders, so-called energy scammers, are once again spreading on the energy market. They started abusing the capped prices of electricity and gas, which they use as an excuse to sign often disadvantageous contracts. At the same time, they threaten clients with, for example, disconnection from consumption, the energy company ČEZ warned today. The price ceiling for energy has been in effect since the beginning of this year, customers get it automatically. Some suppliers have already started offering prices below the ceiling.
Due to high energy prices on the market, the government introduced a price ceiling for electricity and gas for the whole of this year. It is set at 6,000 crowns for one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity including VAT and 3,000 crowns for one MWh of gas. Distribution fees need to be added to this. The so-called ceilings apply to households, companies and public institutions. At the same time, all customers are entitled to it automatically, so they don't have to apply for it.
Even so, according to ČEZ, some fraudulent traders have recently started abusing the price ceiling. According to the company, they approach customers saying that they will not receive state support without signing the offered documents. “But instead, the customer will get to sign a contract with a new supplier, which is less advantageous for him compared to the current contract,” the company said. According to her, some fraudsters pose as employees of state authorities or ČEZ.
“In recent weeks, customers have been alerting us to the increased activity of door-to-door fraudsters with energy, from whom there has been more calm recently. But now, unfortunately, they have found new tricks and are abusing government ceilings to force especially seniors and other vulnerable customers to sign contracts,” he said CEO of ČEZ Prodej Tomáš Kadlec.
“The most typical sign of energy fraudsters is trying to get the customer to sign the contract as quickly as possible without having time to read it properly. A decent merchant whose offer is really advantageous will leave the customer enough time to study it,” Kadlec further pointed out. In similar situations, clients are advised to verify the identity of the worker on the company's helpline.
The Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ) has also recently drawn attention to the unfair practices of some suppliers. According to the authority, some suppliers threaten consumers to disconnect their electricity or gas supply point after the consumer fails to pay a single deposit. However, according to the office, such a procedure may be in violation of the law, because the violation of the payment obligation should be repeated and should only be threatened when the consumer fails to pay at least two different payments for energy.
A number of energy suppliers started in in recent weeks to offer electricity and gas prices below the government ceiling. Below-ceiling prices have already been announced by, for example, E.ON, innogy, MND or Centropol, who have already started offering reduced rates for some tariffs. ČEZ also introduced the new tariff, which, however, expects to reduce prices only from next year.