Exercise caution when concluding an electricity contract
An electricity sales contract is a more complex contract than, for example, a magazine order, and concluding an electricity contract on the phone can sometimes cause problems. The call from a telemarketer often comes unexpectedly, leaving you no time to prepare for it. If you do not remember the details of your current electricity contract, such as the price of electricity and your contract period, you can ask the telemarketer to call again and first check the details of your current contract from your electricity bill.
Quite often telemarketers selling electricity start the call by promising you more affordable prices. Such promises of money saved on electricity bills should be taken with caution, as the telemarketer usually has no way of knowing what you currently pay for electricity. You may request the telemarketer to prove their claims of savings. This can be done, for example, by comparing the price of the contract offered by the telemarketer with the price indicated on your own electricity bill and then calculating whether or not the telemarketer is actually offering a more affordable contract.
However, it is impossible to compare the prices if the telemarketer is offering a contract the price of which is determined directly on the basis of the current stock-market price of electricity. During the contract period, the stock-market price will fluctuate continuously, and there is no way of guaranteeing that the price will remain affordable also in the future.
If your current electricity contract is valid for a fixed term, you should postpone the concluding of a new contract to a later time.
The conclusion of the agreement requires a written confirmation
Starting from the beginning of 2023, a written confirmation from the consumer has been required for the conclusion of a contract in telemarketing.
In telemarketing, the company must submit its offer to the consumer in writing or in some other permanent manner after the sales call.
- The trader must submit the offer to, for example, your e-mail address or personal customer folder in a way that you can receive the offer in person after the telephone conversation. The offer may also be submitted personally, for example, by text message, in which case the offer as a whole must fit in the text message, and e.g. a link to the trader’s website in the text message is not sufficient.
- You must have an effective opportunity to save and copy the offer.
After the telephone conversation, you must accept the offer in writing or in some other permanent manner to make the contract binding. When the offer is delivered to you, you must also be informed that if you do not accept the offer in question in a lasting manner, you will not be bound by the contract and you will not be obliged to pay, return or store the good.
In the event of a dispute, the company must prove that the offer has been delivered to you in accordance with the law and that you have received the above-mentioned notification.
- If you have not accepted the trader’s offer after the telephone conversation, you will not be bound by the contract and you may not be required to pay, return the product, store the product or take any other action.
- If you have contacted the trader on your own initiative or if the trader has contacted you at your explicit request, a written confirmation of the conclusion of the contract is not required. For example, if a trader calls you because of your specific message or call request.
Do not replace a fixed-term contract in the middle of the contract period
If you have a valid fixed-term contract, you should not enter into a new contract during that period. The new contract cannot enter into force until the fixed term of your previous contract expires. If you conclude a new contract during your previous contract period, it may take several months or even 1–2 years until the new contract can enter into force, depending on the duration of the existing contract. Such a long waiting time before the implementation of the new contract can easily cause confusion in the management of your electricity contracts. Furthermore, the market price of electricity and other conditions that existed when the contract was made can change while you wait.
Telemarketers must provide the key details of the contract on the phone
Compare the price of the contract offered by the telemarketer to the price of your existing contract. In addition to the electricity cost (cents/kWh), the price may also include a basic fee (€/month).
Pay also attention to the provisions on how the price of the contract may change:
Ongoing contract is valid until further notice
The service provider may increase the price by submitting a notification 30 days in advance. In this case, you have the right to terminate the contract with a notice period of two weeks.
The service provider cannot change the price of electricity in the middle of the contract period, except in the event of, for example, a tax change. In any case, a fixed-term contract is binding for the entire contract period, and you can only terminate the contract in situations specified in the terms of the contract, such as when moving.
Basis for determining the electricity price is independent of the service provider
In an electricity contract, the price of electricity can be tied to, for example, the Nordic electricity exchange. In this case, the electricity price on your contract may vary, but the service provider is not obligated to notify you of the changes in advance.
Cancellation of contract
Even if you have accepted on the phone an electricity sales contract offered by a telemarketer, you still have the right to cancel the contract. Submit a notification of the cancellation no later than 14 days after you first concluded the contract over the phone.
The telemarketer must send you a confirmation of the contract within a reasonable time after the contract was made. You should receive a contract confirmation sent by post or e-mail within approximately one week after concluding the contract. The confirmation must contain the essential details concerning the contract as well as instructions for cancelling the contract.
Check that the contract details provided in the confirmation are correct and correspond to the information provided by the telemarketer on the phone. The contract will enter into force as stated in the contract confirmation unless you exercise your right to cancel the contract.
Disputing the validity of the contract
If you have not specifically accepted the contract on the phone, but the telemarketer still sends you a written confirmation or invoice concerning the contract, you can dispute the validity of the contract. You can dispute the contract even after the 14-day cancellation period.
In telesales, it is the telemarketer’s responsibility to verify that you have accepted the contract offered and that the concluded contract is valid. If you disagree on the establishment of the contract or its contents, the telemarketer must present a recording of the entire marketing call to demonstrate the contract information provided by the telemarketer and the fact that you have expressly accepted the contract. The validity of an electricity sales contract is not conditional on you signing the contract; instead, a valid contract can also be concluded orally.
You may also dispute the validity of the contract if the telemarketer has not sent you a written confirmation of the contract or if the confirmation has arrived so late that you have not had the opportunity to cancel the contract within the 14-day period specified in the distance selling regulations.
If you have reason to dispute the validity of an electricity contract, follow these steps
Notify the service provider offering the new contract as soon as possible by e-mail or otherwise in writing that you dispute the conclusion of the contract. Provide also the grounds for the dispute.
You should also notify the network company in charge of electricity distribution in your area that you dispute the validity of the contract with the specific service provider.
You can demand that the network company does not change your electricity supplier, and if the change has already been made, the network company must reinstate your customer relationship with your previous electricity supplier.
If electricity has already been supplied by the new company when you dispute the validity of the contract, the company has the right to charge a reasonable compensation for the electricity supplied in the event that your dispute should later prove to be unfounded.
If your complaint to the company does not yield the desired results, contact the Consumer Advisory Services for free guidance and mediation help in the event of a dispute.