French energy suppliers criticised for ‘problematic’ pricing practices

Gaz de Bordeaux and Mint Énergie were among five suppliers said to have acted in a way that was detrimental to customers

Pieces of paper saying ‘facture (bill)’ and ‘gas and electricity’ in French
Five providers were singled out for their particular lack of transparency and ‘misleading’ practices
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Five energy suppliers, including Gaz de Bordeaux, have been condemned by France’s energy supplier meditator for ‘problematic pricing practices’ and not respecting certain industry rules.

The Médiateur national de l'énergie published its annual report on Thursday (June 1).

It criticised the way that some suppliers had ‘passed on’ significant rises in energy prices to consumers, and said some had not acted in a ‘transparent’ way.

‘Incomprehensible and misleading’

It stated: “The unprecedented rises in energy prices have often been passed on by certain suppliers in a way that is not very transparent, or even incomprehensible, or misleading, leading to a sharp increase in this type of dispute.”

It named several suppliers that had been engaging in “problematic pricing practices that have proved detrimental to consumers”. These were Ohm Énergie, Gaz de Bordeaux, Mint Énergie, Mega Énergie et Wekiwi.

The report said Wekiwi, Mega Energie, and Gaz de Bordeaux had marketed offers based on a market price that was only revealed to customers 30 days into the contract.

Lack of ‘tariff shield’

Gaz de Bordeaux was also condemned for failing to offer a ‘tariff shield’ against rising prices.

This meant that “those who lived in the supplier's historical service area and whose contract was coming to an end were faced with very significant price increases, without being able to take out a contract with another gas supplier", the report said.

‘Contract changes without notice’

Mega Énergie, Mint Énergie, and Wekiwi were accused of changing contracts mid-contract, without giving their clients enough notice.

This is in contravention of article L.224-10 of the Consumer Code, which states that changes to contracts must be made transparently and in a timely manner.

‘Monthly payments tripled’

Ohm Énergie was rapped for offering very attractive pricing offers, which then doubled or tripled a few weeks after the client signed up. Consumer group UFC-Que Choisir said that “sometimes, as soon as the contract was activated, there was a doubling or even tripling of monthly payments”.

Ohm Énergie also held the dubious record of having the most consumer complaints in 2021 and 2022.

Calls for legislation change

As a result of the finding, the mediator has called for better implementation and regulation of contract policies, via the amendment of article L. 224-10. It has suggested that the legislation should be changed to better protect small businesses, and by changing companies’ right to charge early contract termination fees.

It is also calling for more rigid rules around granting business authorisations to energy providers.

The condemnation of the energy providers comes amid soaring prices in 2022 and 2023.

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