The National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC) has urged energy traders to inform their customers about alternative mechanisms to resolve claims.

The CNMC has published the ‘Report on supervision of the alternative dispute resolution process between electricity and natural gas marketers and consumers’, in which it analyzes compliance by electricity and gas marketers with the obligation they have to Inform your clients about the existence of Consumer Arbitration Boards and other mediation entities to resolve their claims.

Consumers have the possibility of going in second instance to an alternative consumer litigation entity, when their initial claim before the company has not been resolved in their favour. In this way, they avoid going to court to resolve their disputes, as stated in the regulations.

In 2022, 62 entities of this type have been recorded in Spain, which carry out their activity in different sectors, including electricity and gas. In both cases, their specific sectoral laws detail the aforementioned obligation that falls on the companies.

As part of its consumer defense efforts, the CNMC sent a questionnaire to the retailers with the largest number of customers in the electricity and gas sectors, which represent a market share of 96% of the supply points of small electricity consumers. electricity and 98% in gas.

In this sense, the CNMC has observed that, despite the fact that many marketers inform consumers about arbitrations through media or customer service channels (web pages, invoices or contracts), the number of claims filed has been very low. in recent years.

Specifically, in 2021 there were 3,370 in electricity and 1,392 in gas, while in 2020 there were 1,340 in electricity and 590 in gas. This represents 0.20% and 0.24% of the total claims filed.

The most common claims were motivated by billing (1,744 in electricity and 399 in gas) and contracting and sales (1,162 in electricity and 377 in gas). More than 50% of the arbitration results were favorable to consumers.

The arbitration entity designated by the marketers must meet the requirements of directive 2013/11/UE, which was incorporated into the Spanish legal system through Law 7/2017, of November 2.

Marketers must highlight this information on their web pages, in their promotional information and contracts, since arbitration is a powerful consumer protection mechanism.

Directive 2019/944 of the internal electricity market establishes that the participation of electricity companies in out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms for domestic customers is mandatory. In turn, within the minimum content that the electricity bill must include, it establishes that information on the rights of end customers with regard to the out-of-court resolution of disputes must be included, including the contact information of the entity correspondent.

The CNMC has assured that it will continue to supervise this mechanism to guarantee compliance with the regulations and contribute to the dissemination and knowledge of the arbitration mechanism, for the benefit of consumers.