Spanish consumer association warns of potentially ‘misleading’ electricity bill

by Lorraine Williamson
electricity bill

The Spanish Consumers and Users Organisation (OCU) has warned that electricity companies on the free market are using misleading tactics to make customers pay more on their bill. 

The companies’ strategy is to increase the price of contracted power and advertise more attractive prices to customers. 

Therefore, OCU has called on the National Markets and Competition Commission and the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge to force companies to be fully transparent. This should include displaying all components of tariffs in a simple and understandable manner. 

Companies raise prices of contracted power 

In addition, energy suppliers announce more attractive prices for energy consumed. As a result, customers think they are paying less for electricity when this is not the case, or at least not as much as they think. 

For the OCU, this increase in the price of contracted electricity instead of the price of consumed energy is a trap for consumers. Businesses benefit from the fact that the fixed part of the bill is less visible. 

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It is more difficult to compare rates by using different units (daily, monthly or annual price) depending on the company or format. 

The OCU denounces the fact that this strategy also aims to guarantee companies fixed revenue per customer. Moreover, they discourage users from consuming less energy from the grid, through efficiency measures or the installation of solar panels 

OCU calls for solutions 

The OCU has filed a complaint with the CNMC and the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge. The organisation calls on suppliers to be fully transparent and show simple and understandable tariffs. Without adding surcharges to the fixed term tariff. If they do, they should indicate this clearly.  

Advertisements should pay equal attention to all components. These include fixed term, variable term, social bonus funding or any other monthly fee they apply. Also, all companies should express them in the same unit of measurement (per day, per month or per year). 

Tips from OCU 

To avoid falling into these commercial traps, the OCU gives users the following tips. Check whether the contracted power is adapted to needs and compare all aspects of the tariffs. For example, the price of power at different times of day and the price of kWh consumed at different times of day. 

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