Gas: gas suppliers ignore the second UFC-Que choisir campaign
ANNE FEITZ journalist – on dec. 26th
Lampiris, the Belgian gas supplier is the one and only company to show interest for this grouped purchase system.
|Courtesy les Échos -SIPA|
Gas suppliers are not eager to take part in the new campaign of grouped purchases initiated by UFC-Que Choisir (a French powerful consumer association). Whereas the deadline was set at Dec. 22nd to accept the schedule of conditions imposed by the consumer association, Lampiris, the Belgian company is the first to announce that it will take part to the second round of the offer branded “Less expensive gas for everyone”.
As the association did last year, the UFC-Que Choisir intends to promote competition in the gas sector: thus the association will choose a supplier offering prices at least 12% lower than the regulated tariff. Last year, Lampiris won the tender and thus added 71,000 customers to its portfolio, offering a 15,5% discount over the regulated tariff; thus the customers enjoyed a yearly average economy of nearly €200.
The Belgian supplier was the only one to release an offer, as GDF Suez’ other competitors judged that the general sale conditions were far too restricting. Indeed the UFC-Que Choisir asked them to be the be the sole responsible towards the customer, even in case of problem arising out from the distributor. “We would be responsible even if the meter is defaulting or in case of cut, which seems to us contrary to on-going regulations”, highlighted Daniel Fava, Eni Gas @ Power France CEO.
Restricting conditions for companies
Thus last week, Eni published a press release, announcing that the company will not take part to UFC-Que Choisir tender for that reason. According to our information, among the gas suppliers listed by the energy control Commission for households, neither Antargaz nor Direct Energie wont apply to the tender. “Last year, we already deemed this restricting clause rising our responsibility level as inacceptable”, said Fabien Choné, deputy general manager of Direct Energie. “Same causes lead to same consequences: we won’t answer to this year’s tender”. Last year, EDF did not take part to the tender, as the company preferred to keep a direct link with its customers; indeed it seems quite unlikely the company changes its position this year. Moreover Alterna, which groups around thirty local distribution companies, did not look very eager to take market shares for now.
UFC-Que Choisir regrets ENI and Direct Energie’s decision. “The sole responsibility clause of the schedule of conditions does not mean that the distributor has no more responsibility, but that the supplier must cope with any problem faced by its customer’, explained Alain Bazot, the association’s president. “Of course, then the supplier keeps the possibility to refer the case against the distributor, as that is often the case in many sectors.”
Lampiris has not been afraid by these conditions. “These restrictions did not cause any problem last year”, said Julien Tchernia, development manager, adding that the first campaign was “a major success”. In mid-December, 100,000 households already enrolled for the second campaign; on January, 20th UFC-Que Choisir will unveil the tender winner’s name.
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