Frisian lawyer Roelof de Nekker reports the first settlements of energy companies Vattenfall, Eneco and Essent, which are refunding hundreds to thousands of euros to customers for unilaterally raising energy prices. This follows a victory at the Amsterdam court, where De Nekker argued that these companies were guilty of unfair trading practices by driving up consumer tariffs for gas and electricity without offering their customers an alternative.
The court ruled in February that these energy companies illegally raised tariffs. Vattenfall appealed, but De Nekker now sees several settlements coming up in other cases. Essent, for example, paid 1,400 euros to a customer to buy off a complaint.
De Nekker developed a sample letter that energy customers could use to challenge unilaterally imposed tariff increases themselves. This proved effective. For example, one customer received a settlement proposal from Vattenfall for 200 euros, which was then increased to 400 euros after refusing the first proposal.
It is estimated that between four and five million customers with variable energy contracts have been affected by this situation. Several claims foundations have become active to help, including Gobaxter, which is collecting complaints to make a massive claim.
Energy companies are now trying to settle to avoid going to court. At least three customers of Essent, Eneco and Vattenfall have received settlement offers of between €400 and €1,400 after making a claim about an unjustified tariff increase. It is likely that more settlement proposals have been made, but companies may have demanded secrecy.