5 tips to avoid getting stuck with an unwanted energy contract

A friendly salesperson from an energy provide calls or comes by. Many entrepreneurs recognise this situation. They use smart sales techniques and make you an attractive business offer. Before you know it, you have said yes or signed a contract. But was that really such a good idea?

No business contract required for business energy contracts

Self-employed professionals such as zzp’ers, eenmanszaken, and small business users often do not need to have a business energy contract. You can defer the energy costs of the part of your home where your business is located, even if you have a private contract. This goes for the VAT as well. 

You are making it harder for yourself

Cancelling a business contract is harder than cancelling a private one. Private consumers have a 2 week reflection period. Entrepreneurs who take out a business contract do not have that legal right. Also, the cancellation fee for entrepreneurs is often higher than that of private individuals. They pay a maximum of 125 euros.

Did you say yes or sign anyway? Here are 5 tips: 

  1. Is there a reflection period?
    Check the general terms and conditions. There may be a reflection period. Is a reflection period mentioned in your contract? Then you can cancel under the terms in the contract. Your safest strategy is to check this before you sign the contract. 
     
  2. Find help
    If you have a legal aid policy, call them for help. They can find out if you have been misled. Or perhaps there were other irregularities in the way the deal was made. They can also mediate between you and the energy supplier. You can also call in legal counsel, or a lawyer. Or do it yourself. 
     
  3. Have the dispute settled by the Geschillencommissie Energie Zakelijk
    The Geschillencommissie (Dutch Foundation for Consumer Complaints Boards) takes on cases where the damage is below 50,000 euros. Their Geschillencommissie Energie Zakelijk (in Dutch) will look into the matter and decide who is right. Their decision is legally binding for both parties. You do not need a lawyer or legal adviser to approach them. But you do need to try to settle the matter with your energy supplier before you approach them. And: this procedure is not free. 
     
  4. Switch to another energy provider
    You can opt to cancel your contract and switch to another energy supplier. You may have to pay a hefty cancellation fine. If you find a cheaper provider, you may limit your losses. 
     
  5. Report your complaint to ACM
    The Autoriteit Consument en Markt (Authority for Consumers and Markets, ACM) supervises the energy market. If you have a complaint about the methods used by an energy proider, you can report it to ACM. They can take steps, especially if they receive multiple complaints about the same supplier. ACM can impose fines, but they do not mediate between you and the energy supplier.