Customers fight adjusted electricity bills in France of up to €10,000

The revised bills left clients in shock after learning their energy company had increased prices by up to 400%

French energy ombudsman says providers can raise prices but they must inform clients one month in advance in a “transparent and easy to understand” way
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Dozens of clients of alternative electricity suppliers have spoken of their shock after receiving adjusted bills of up to €10,000.

In most cases, bills arrived one year after the client’s contract was renewed at a higher price, with consumers unaware of the rise.

After receiving a bill from Eni for more than €9,000, Vincent Audigier created a collective to represent clients in similar situations. They are currently in discussions with Eni.

In tears after reading the bill

Martine, who asked us not to publish her full name, moved in with her father, who is 78, in March, and the next month switched electricity provider.

Eni, the previous provider, sent her father a bill after the account closure, informing him he owed €4,893 on top of the €1,283 he had already paid since last October, even though he had used slightly less electricity than the previous year.

Martine said she “ended up in tears” after reading the bill.

Read more: Anger over huge bills from alternative electricity providers in France

Monthly payments were not adjusted

Eni claimed it sent an email informing her father of the price hike in September, before his previous contract expired, which she later learned he had filed away, thinking it was an advert.

“On my dad’s account, it says he does not want to receive information by email,” she said.

She also claims the email was not clear, with the new price hidden in a table on the fourth page, and it said the monthly payments would be adjusted, which did not happen, despite his contract going from €0.14 per kWh to €0.62.

Martine has contested the bill and rejected Eni’s offer to reduce it by 47%. “Eni is not closed off to finding a solution,” she said, referring to discussions with the collective, which she found via the Facebook group Victimes d’Eni et de leurs manigances.

400% increase

IT consultant Joffrey Faroux had been paying Eni €110 per month for the last five years. In August, he received a text saying €2,900 would be debited from his account. Only then did he notice his tariff had increased by almost 400% in January.

He claims Eni failed to clearly communicate the change in advance. “If they’d said my monthly payments would rise to €490, I could have switched providers,” he said.

Bills did not include price shield

Eni has since admitted it sent incorrect bills to 100,000 clients (out of more than 1 million clients in France), the Energy Ministry said.

It failed to include the government’s price shield measure in the price, and is reportedly committed to correcting the bills.

The bouclier tarifaire (price shield) limited prices to a 4% rise in autumn 2021, before rises of 15% at the start of 2023 and 10% in August.

The price shield applies to the regulated tariff, contracts indexed on the regulated tariff, and fixed-price offers.

Read more: Electricity bills in France to rise by 10% from August 1

Price increases must be clearly communicated

Caroline Keller, head of information and communication at the Médiateur National de l’Energie (MNE) energy ombudsman, said it had received numerous complaints related to Eni, as well as Engie.

Providers can raise prices but they must inform clients one month in advance in a “transparent and easy to understand” way, she said.

“Simply saying ‘Here is the new price list’ is not enough for the mediator. If the price is being doubled, that should be written.

“If they raise prices, it is their duty to increase monthly payments to avoid large adjusted bills later on.”

How to complain to electricity companies

The MNE received 5,000 complaints concerning energy prices in 2022, twice as many as the previous year, and says the same trend has continued in 2023.

Last year, many of these related to Mint Energie, Mega Energie and Wekiwi, and involved price rises applied to ongoing contracts, rather than on renewal.

Clients can switch energy providers at any time. If you only realise later that prices have risen, you can send a recorded letter contesting the bill, explaining that the information was not clearly communicated.

If after two months the company has not provided a satisfactory solution, you can turn to the mediator, by letter or at

Switching providers does not prevent you contesting a past bill.

An Engie spokesman said the company applies the price shield to all eligible contracts, and informs clients a month before the end of their contracts of their new offer.

“We estimate the client’s annual bill and, if necessary, proactively propose to adjust their monthly payments to avoid significant adjustments later.”

Eni did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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