• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Planned database on electricity and gas customers triggers criticism


Jun 2, 2023
Planned database on electricity and gas customers triggers criticism

Do utilities want to slow down customers who often cancel their contracts to switch to a cheaper supplier?? Plans by credit reporting agencies for databases on electricity and gas consumers have raised such fears.

"The competition in the electricity and gas market lives on the change of the supplier. We take a critical view of attempts to make it more difficult for customers to switch," a spokesman for the federal network agency said on tuesday.

NDR and the "suddeutsche zeitung" reported that the credit agencies schufa and crifburgel were developing databases in which apparently industry-wide contract data of as many customers as possible were to be stored. A schufa spokesman emphasized that the data pool, which has not yet been developed to market maturity, does not have the goal of "identifying frequent switchers in order to prevent them from being able to switch their energy supplier". Crifburgel stated that it does not currently offer a data pool for energy suppliers.

Consumer users fear energy companies could use databases to reject customers who switched suppliers frequently. There are already repeated complaints from consumers who report difficulties in switching providers. They are thus denied a change or new contract bonus. It is not known how many consumers who are willing to change suppliers do not receive a contract from one of them. The companies don’t have to give any reasons for refusal either.

Since the liberalization of the electricity and gas market more than 20 years ago, customers have been able to choose their supplier freely. When it comes to electricity, each household can choose between more than 100 suppliers on average. But not all households do so by a long shot. According to the federal network agency, a good two-thirds of all households still purchased electricity from their local supplier in 2018. Only around 10 percent of households change their electricity supplier each year.

According to its own information, the federal network agency has no possibility of prohibiting such databases. "Unfortunately, the federal network agency has no legal means of limiting the expansion of data pools of customers who are particularly willing to switch," the spokesman said. The federal and state data protection authorities want to look into the credit agencies’ plans at the beginning of november, as a spokesman for the north rhine-westphalia authority confirmed.

Schufa had written about its "e-pool" on a web page that has since been deleted, saying that suppliers could obtain "valuable information on the existing energy account and the previous term" from the "information on the existing energy account and the previous term. According to the schufa spokesman, the information is intended to help utilities offer contracts to consumers without sufficient credit rating.


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