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Why EDF is contacting consumers in France about their personal data

Consumers with regulated ‘Tarif bleu’ contracts are receiving a message asking for permission to share their data. Here is why and what happens if you do not reply

Consumers on the Tarif bleu may receive a message from EDF asking them for permission to share their data with competitors if they request it Pic: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock

French electricity supplier EDF has been writing to customers on its regulated Tarif bleu tariff asking about their personal data, to seek permission to share it with competitors. We explain how to respond.

If you are on the tariff, you may have received a message asking for permission (or refusal) for EDF to “share your data with other electricity suppliers who request it”.

The message has been highlighted by consumer group UFC-Que Choisir, which said that EDF began sending the first messages digitally from April 4, and later sent letters by post to people for whom it does not have an electronic address.

Why are the messages being sent?

EDF is complying with a decision from February 22, handed down by competition authority l’Autorité de la concurrence. 

In the ruling, the authority condemned “the company, and its subsidiaries Dalkia Smart Building, Dalkia, Citelum and CHAM, for having implemented practices of abuse of a dominant position", to the tune of €300million.

This “dominant position” was due to EDF’s status as an operator in charge of supplying electricity at the regulated sales tariff (tarif réglementé de vente, TRV)".

The authority said that EDF had built on its “historical monopoly” to use data from its existing customers to “develop the marketing of its market offers - in particular of gas and energy services".

As part of the ruling, the company has therefore committed to making its “TRV Bleu customer file available to alternative electricity suppliers who request it", l’Autorité de la concurrence said. 

To do this, however, it must have permission from customers; hence the messages.

Should I reply?

Yes, UFC-Que Choisir recommends that you do, otherwise some of your details are likely to be shared by default, without your express permission (see “What happens if I do not respond?” below).

You can choose two responses. First, you can deny permission for your data to be shared to competitor suppliers who request them, or secondly, you can give permission for data to be shared if or when requested. 

Giving permission for your data to be shared may mean you will be approached by EDF's competitors in the future. If you do not wish to be contacted by competitors, you should deny permission for your data to be shared. 

Denying permission means EDF cannot share any of your data, and you will not be approached by any competitors with alternative electricity offers.

Which data does EDF need my permission to share? 

EDF needs your express permission to share: 

  • Civil status
  • Surname and first name
  • Landline and mobile phone numbers;
  • Email address;
  • Billing address;
  • Whether you have an electric heater.

What happens if I do not respond?

As UFC-Que Choisir explains: “[In the absence of a response] EDF will share by default data that does not specifically require your agreement". 

This may include:

  • Your address
  • The power you are subscribed to in kilovoltampere (kVA)
  • Your annual consumption volume over the past two years
  • The commercial name of the tariff option subscribed to
  • Your type of meter (Linky or other).

Is it in my interest to be approached by competitors?

Sometimes, yes, although the current energy situation in France means competitive deals are unlikely right now.

Earlier this month, UFC-Que Choisir said that the current market is “completely stuck” due to price increases as a result of the war in Ukraine.  

Read more: Electricity market in France 'completely stuck' says consumer group 

Alternative providers are becoming less and less common, and they are less likely to be able to offer competitive tariffs, despite the market having opened to competition 15 years ago, the group said.

Elisabeth Chesnais, a journalist for UFC-Que Choisir, said: "Since the meteoric economic recovery that we experienced after the start of the Covid pandemic, the world's population, both individuals and companies, has greatly increased electricity consumption, which has caused prices to soar in a rather unprecedented way.”

She said: “Faced with these price increases, alternative suppliers have either sharply increased their prices or gone bust. This means that consumers have less choice.”

However, consumers will always have EDF to fall back on, Ms Chesnais said, as the government has designated the supplier as a “last resort”.

The journalist added that she recommends that consumers return to EDF’s regulated tariffs, as they are not subject to market price variations.

What is the Tarif bleu TRV tariff? 

The Tarif Bleu is also known as the tarif réglementé de vente (TRV). It is a regulated sales tariff for electricity, which is set by public authorities. More information can be found on the EDF website (in English and French).

There are three options for the tariff.

  • Basic, which means the electricity price per kWh is always the same, regardless of the day and time of your energy consumption, which is best if your electricity use is low. 
  • Off-Peak, which means you get a better price per kWh for eight hours a day, which is best if you use a lot of electrical appliances
  • Tempo, which means the price per kWh varies depending on day or time, and works best if you use a minimum of 9 kVA and do not use electricity for heating.

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