As gas prices rise, small energy companies are trying to get out of consumers’ contracts with fixed energy rates. At least two energy suppliers, DGB Energie and Enstroga, have informed their customers that the contract will be canceled unless they opt for a more expensive contract with higher prices for gas and light.
Enstroga sent customers a second letter this month. “We have previously sent you a message about the rate change. You have indicated that you do not agree with this or have not yet responded. The supply of electricity and gas will be terminated on 20 October,” is the purport of the letter to hundreds of customers would have been sent.
What Enstroga does is not allowed. An energy contract cannot simply be terminated unilaterally. Several customers have contacted the company. “I gave the company notice of default. After that I did not receive a substantive answer, but I did receive the standard letter, stating that many customers have accepted the new rate and that if I did not, the delivery would stop,” says Anna (not her real name), who has a contract with the company.
Anna still had gas and light today, so it seems that Enstroga cannot fulfill the threat. “I didn’t expect anything else. It’s a nonsense threat. They can’t close me at all.”
The British branch of Enstroga went bankrupt a few weeks ago. As a result, customers have lost their money. To prevent this, Anna has stopped her direct debit, with which she pays monthly in advance, and has refunded the money. “I now pay afterwards what I have used. That way I keep control.”
The ACM is investigating Enstroga and DGB Energie, the regulator said earlier after questions from RTL Z. The withdrawal of licenses from energy suppliers is ‘not an issue’ at the moment, a spokesperson now tells RTL Z.
The ACM spokesperson emphasizes that stopping deliveries is not allowed. “We have been very clear about this before. Changing rates is also not possible and is not allowed. Consumers who receive such a letter must report it immediately. They do not have to worry that they are left out in the cold because the physical Closing is done by a network operator. We are in contact with that. Delivery is therefore guaranteed. The conditions are very strict, especially in winter, and you are not just closed.”
Meanwhile, Enstroga doesn’t give home. The company does not respond to questions from RTL Z. An employee of the German branch of the company that has set up Enstroga Netherlands is not prepared to answer questions. “Try it in the Netherlands,” he says.
The secretary of lawyer Knut Seidel, who is listed under the heading Supervisory Board on the Enstroga Germany site, says that her boss is not interested in questions from the press about the energy company. Why doesn’t Seidel want to do that? “I’m not told that,” she says.
DGB Energie states on the website that there is a ‘misunderstanding’. Security of supply would never have been endangered. “September 29, we canceled your supply agreement in accordance with the conditions and advised you to look for another energy supplier. You may still be able to take advantage of a relatively low offer here.” If customers don’t want to switch, the company will continue to supply energy at variable rates, she says in the message on the site.
The Consumers’ Association calls DBG’s statements sheer nonsense: “We still receive letters from customers that do indeed state that the delivery will stop.”
No one at DGB Energie was immediately available for questions from RTL Z.
Enstroga was founded in 2012 by the German Jens Müller-Bennerscheidt. He is still CEO of the company that is active in countries such as Germany, Austria, Spain and Portugal. In 2019, the company received a supply license for the Dutch market.
The British branch of the company has recently been declared bankrupt. Bankruptcy is not yet on the agenda in the other countries. However, the company has also informed German customers that it will stop deliveries due to the high energy prices.
Incidentally, in the event of bankruptcy, customers in the Netherlands will not be without gas and electricity. Customers automatically receive a new energy supplier if ACM withdraws Enstroga’s license.