A few hours later Antitrust sanction (Agcm) against energy managers who increased their bills during the period in which it was banned, several consumers have asked us what will happen now and whether the sanction paves the way for a wave of refunds. The authority, it should be remembered, fined six operators a total of 15 million (Enel for ten million, Eni, Acea, Iberdrola, Dolomiti and Edison), “guilty” of having unilaterally modified the contracts with their clients, increasing the price of electricity. or gas rates. It is a shame that for several months, during 2022, it has been in force the Aid-bis decree which prohibited such actions, precisely to protect consumers from the serious price crisis that was then wreaking havoc on international markets.
Will the 15 million fine be used to reimburse customers for the extra money they paid?
This is the question that many readers have asked us. The answer is no. If you consider that the Consumer Code has been violated, the Defense of Competition establishes sanctions, which will be collected by the Tax Agency. Therefore, this money will go to the State which, in part, will also use it to finance initiatives to protect consumer rights. But it certainly won’t end up in the pockets of customers affected by illegitimate increases.
Why haven’t antitrust authorities forced energy operators to refund customers?
Because he can’t really do it. Among the powers of the Authority is not to order reimbursements or compensation to companies. In this sense, it can be said that antitrust legislation can facilitate them: it often happens that a company undertakes (of its own free will) to return stolen goods to customers. In these cases, Agcm closes the procedure without a fine and, if restitution does not occur, the sanction itself is applied. In the case of energy companies, this commitment did not exist and Antitrust cannot impose it. But not all managers are the same: among the six fined companies, for example, Edison had already served the (few) clients affected by the price increase, for which the minimum legal fine, five thousand euros, was imposed.
What can I do then to get a refund?
The first step to take is to file a complaint with the manager who unilaterally modified the contract. If after 40 days the response has not arrived or is not conclusive, conciliation can be carried out with Arera (the energy authority). It is an extrajudicial and free procedure in which a conciliator tries to mediate between the two litigants to reach a solution. The meetings take place online, you can be represented by a consumer association, and between sending the request and closing the procedure no more than 90 days can pass, extendable for another 30.
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