Thursday, 25 February 2016

Transparency of energy offers

Yesterday we reported about the Commission's study on vulnerability, which, among other things, called for more transparency, so that consumers could easier compare offers and make choices. This week also the BEUC reported on the need for more transparency in one consumer sector - energy.
BEUC, EUROGAS and EURELECTRIC issued a joint statement urging energy suppliers to simplify their offers to consumers and defining further the general legal requirement for provision of information in a "clear and comprehensible manner". The recommendation is to focus on key information (product name and main feature; total price and conditions for price changes; contract duration, notice period and conditions for terminations, incl fees and penalties; payment frequency and method options; supplier's contact details) and to deliver it "in a short, easily understandable, prominent and accessible manner". This is interesting, since we can infer that, at least in the eyes of these organisations, clear and comprehensible means concise, free of jargon and provided in one easily accessible place (instead various parts of this disclosure finding themselves in various documents of the supplier) (see BEUC's news report).

Of course, the key information provided to consumers in the above-mentioned way would not replace pre-contractual information duties of the energy providers. Whether the energy sector follows on these recommendations will be evaluated in early 2017.

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