Nordic Green Energy charged consumers a separate EUR 52 “disconnection process service fee” when the consumer had failed to pay the electric bill and had been sent a disconnection warning of the termination of the electricity supply. According to the company, the service fee covered the costs incurred by the company from the different tasks involved in the disconnecting process.
The Electricity Market Act stipulates that a written notice on non-payment must be sent to the consumer, followed by a separate disconnection warning. According to the Debt Collection Act, an electricity company may charge no more than EUR 5 per reminder for a payment reminder.
According the Consumer Ombudsman, a disconnection warning can also be considered to be part of collection. The disconnection warning can be considered to correspond to a payment reminder with respect to the collection fees, so that the maximum charge of EUR 5, as specified in the Debt Collection Act, is also applicable to disconnection warnings sent by an electricity company.
The Consumer Ombudsman considered the nature of the costs of the tasks covered by the service fee to be the general costs of an electrical company that the company must cover with the income from its electricity business. Charging a separate service fee for these measures was price partitioning, which is a breach of the Consumer Protection Act, and the contract term concerning the charging of a service fee was unreasonable for consumers.
The Consumer Ombudsman demanded that Nordic Green Energy not charge consumers a separate disconnecting process service fee in a situation in which the consumer’s payment is late and a collection process for the outstanding payments has begun. This applies both to a situation in which the disconnecting process has proceeded to the termination of the electricity supply, and a situation in which the consumer pays the outstanding balance before the termination is performed. The Consumer Ombudsman also required that Nordic Green Energy compensate consumers for any disconnecting process service fees already charged. The company stated that it will carry out the measures required by the Consumer Ombudsman.