NEON, the National Energy Ombudsman Network, welcomes EU Commission DG Energy’s European Energy Consumers’ Rights brochure. This brochure explains in detail what energy consumers gain from European legislation, besides the general consumer rights guaranteed in EU legislation, with a special focus on the right to easy resolution of complaints and disputes, through an independent body, such as an energy ombudsman.
The EU has defined since the opening of the energy supply market a set of rights that all EU citizens enjoy as energy consumers. The rights as an energy consumer have to be clearly set out in national laws and must reflect provisions in EU legislation. On that basis, the national legislation must guarantee the right to an electricity and gas connection, a choice of supplier, an easy and fast switch of supplier, clear contract information and right of withdrawal, accurate consumption information, information on how to use energy more efficiently and on the benefits of using energy from renewable sources, an energy performance certificate, a national point of contact for energy, specific consumer protection measures for ‘vulnerable’ consumers, and easy resolution of complaints and disputes.
The brochure insists on the fact that in the event that the complaint is not managed to the consumer’s satisfaction, they have the right to send their complaint to an independent body, for an out-of-court dispute settlement, such as an energy ombudsman.
NEON is very pleased to note that the brochure recognises the central role of independent ombudsmen and ADR bodies as a fundamental right for energy consumers.
By handling consumer disputes, as an external appeal body, NEON members, all independent ombudsmen, and ADR bodies, contribute to rebalancing the relationship consumers have with companies. Though we are impartial, and may not regard ourselves as pro-consumer organisations, our operations lend the voice of the consumer equal weight when resolving disputes between energy companies and consumers, resulting in decisions which are not biased in either direction. We help consumers to raise their voices in a situation where they would usually be drowned out by large energy companies, outside of financial muscle or legal expertise.
We respect principles of fairness, with no discrimination with a special mention to the right of good administration, and pay special attention to vulnerable customers.
We promote and guarantee human and fundamental rights. In our daily work, we can highlight malpractice and significant breaches of ethics and respect for the rights of consumers.
NEON members have powers of investigation and to formulate opinions and recommendations.