ICA: 6 proceedings initiated, 13 investigations closed and 3 moral suasion interventions concerning the offers of electricity and gas on the free market
The Authority contests the insufficient or incomplete indication of the offer price. 2 sanctions imposed against Argos and Sentra Energia for just over 2.4 million
The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has closed 13 proceedings concerning the lack of transparency in the presentation of the economic conditions for the supply of electricity and gas on the free market. In particular, 11 proceedings - opened against Enel Energia, Optima, Green Network, Illumia, Wekiwi, Olimpia-Gruppo Sinergy, Gasway, Dolomiti Energia, E.On, Axpo and Audax - were closed accepting the commitments offered by the companies, while 2 proceedings against Argos and Sentra Energia were closed ascertaining unfair commercial practices and imposing a fine.
The Authority's investigation is based on an extensive analysis of the contractual and advertising documentation of the commercial offers made by the main companies in the sector and on the examination of numerous complaints by consumers. They have shown important critical issues and general misleading or omitted information on some components of the price of electricity and gas supply on the free market and, often, the provision of hidden, improper charges not due by consumers.
In particular, it emerged that the value of the "marketing charges" (generally referred to as the Marketing and Sales Price - PCV - for electricity and Retail Share - QVD - for gas) was omitted both in the terms of the contract and in the advertising material, where only the price of the "energy component" was advertised, although these charges represent an essential part of the supply price for the consumer and the revenues of the companies. They are amounts that are added in the invoice to the charges set by the regulator - system, transport and meter management charges - or of a tax nature.
In addition, some offers provided for improper charges denominated in various ways, shipping costs of the bill or penalties, also in the form of cancellation of discounts granted at the time of signing the contract - in contrast to the regulations in force - which were applied regularly or in the event of early withdrawal from the supply contract.
The Authority accepted the commitments proposed by the 11 companies, also by virtue of an articulated opinion drafted by the Regulatory Authority of the sector (Arera), provided that the sales companies guarantee clarity and completeness of the price of electricity and gas supply in the contractual documentation and promotional material, with regard to current and future commercial offers. In this way consumers will be able to know the price of the actual supply and compare offers on the free market. The ICA also accepted the commitments, relating to the full reimbursement of the not due charges to all consumers, both active ones or not, which had been charged since 2018.
On the other hand, with regard to the proceedings closed against the companies Argos and Sentra Energia, the Authority - after having ascertained the misleading or omitted indication of the costs for the supply of electricity and/or gas and the application of charges not due by users - has imposed two sanctions: one to Argos amounting to 2,160,000 euros and one to Sentra Energia amounting to 250,000 euros.
The Authority has then launched 6 investigations against the companies Visitel, Enne Energia, Ubroker, Bluenergy, Europe Energy and Ajò Energia, to ascertain the existence of similar critical issues with reference to offers made on the free energy market.
Finally, the ICA ,through 3 moral suasion interventions, invited Eni gas e luce, A2A and Sorgenia to make the current and future promotional communications clearer and more complete, indicating with the same graphic evidence all the charges applied by the sales companies for the supply of electricity and gas, so as to allow consumers to consciously choose the offers on the free market.
The Authority will continue to monitor the contents of the commercial proposals for energy and gas in order to ensure the transparency of the offers and the non-imposition of inappropriate charges as well as to allow consumers to choose the best conditions of offer, in view of the transition for all users to the free market from 1 January 2023.
Rome, 4 August 2021