Never take out a contract over the phone
Faced with this resurgence, the national energy mediator, created in 2006 and responsible for recommending solutions to disputes between consumers and operators in the energy sector, alerts on abusive practices. Because since 2007 and the opening of the gas and electricity markets to competition, around forty suppliers can offer contracts. Even if the “historical” retain a significant market share – 71% of customers for EDF concerning electricity and 57.1% for Engie concerning gas – the French are free to change. However, Caroline Keller, head of the information and communication department at the national energy mediator, reminds us that “you should not sign a contract during a canvassing telephone call. Signing a contract by telephone is also not valid. This practice is prohibited for energy suppliers.
Take the time to compare prices
Before changing your offer or supplier, “you must request detailed information concerning the price of the KWh and the subscription in writing. Then take the time to compare the prices of suppliers on the comparator made available by the energy mediator. Contracts with fixed prices or indexed to regulated prices are more reassuring, those indexed to market prices more fluctuating,” explains the head of the information and communication department.
For its part, the Fraud Repression Agency (DGCCRF) also recommends not communicating your meter number, with which a direct seller can terminate a contract. As with all other types of scams, never communicate your personal data: bank details, usernames and passwords, identity documents, etc.
Suppliers 10 to 20% cheaper
In France, EDF is the only one to have regulated prices, that is to say defined by the State. Other suppliers are free to propose several types of offers: a fixed price contract, indexed to regulated prices or to markets.
“Currently, suppliers are offering offers 10 to 20% cheaper than the regulated rate, so it is possible to make savings,” notes Caroline Keller.
Before changing, also pay attention to the type of offer and contract you are going to sign. “Some suppliers may increase their prices based on the market price or regulated rates. They are obliged to notify their customers, but some people’s communication is more or less effective. We must therefore be vigilant about messages from our supplier,” explains Caroline Keller. If you receive an email or letter with the words ”your contract is changing”, do not throw it away immediately, it could contain important information. “If your supplier informs you of a price increase, you are free to switch. The latter must notify its customers at least one month before an increase in prices,” notes Caroline Keller.
Beware of overly attractive offers
Also be vigilant in the face of overly attractive offers: some suppliers can cut prices, but regulation according to your actual consumption can result in a very high bill.
The energy mediator also recommends taking a look at “the quality of customer service and the number of supplier disputes. This is a good indicator of its quality. Last year, we gave a red card to certain suppliers who increased their prices during the contract,” advises Caroline Keller.
Finally, if you change your mind, you have 14 days from signing the contract to withdraw without giving reasons or paying a penalty.