The settlement procedure
Once a dispute settlement application reaches our service, our staff will check the information received as far as possible. To be eligible for dispute settlement by our service, a customer must already have tried to find a solution with the company bilaterally.
Our first approach is to verify whether we can directly reply to the applicant’s questions, based on the documents submitted and on the legal framework. If this is possible, we do not set off a dispute settlement procedure but given an answer directly, without getting a statement from the electricity or gas undertaking. If the applicant is a consumer under section 1 Konsumentenschutzgesetz (Consumer Protection Act), they will be informed that they can start a settlement procedure if they are not satisfied with the answers provided by our dispute settlement service. To do so, a corresponding application must reach us within two weaks; failing this, we assume that the dispute settlement application is withdrawn.
Once a formal procedure has been started, our dispute settlement service contacts the relevant company to verify the facts and to get a statement on the case from their side. This serves to check the substance of the application.
E-Control’s dispute settlement service is not a court and cannot conduct proceedings to collect evidence; instead, we must rely on the information provided by the parties. Likewise, we cannot hand down a verdict or take a binding decision.
If it turns out that the applicant was right to complain and the service provided or bill issued was faulty, the dispute settlement service will try to find an amicable solution between the parties.
Energy companies are obliged to cooperate in these procedures and to provide all necessary documents.
A solution to the dispute can be proposed either by the company or by the dispute settlement service. It only becomes binding if both parties accept it. When this is the case and both parties have signed the proposed solution, this solution legally becomes an out-of-court settlement and parties can be held to it before court.
If the dispute settlement service checks the documents and statements and finds that the company is not faulty, the procedure ends.
Often, insufficient consumer information is at the heart of disputes brought to our attention. Companies act in line with the law and market rules, but consumers are not sufficiently and clearly informed about the situation.
Our dispute settlement service staff try to give this information, let customers know about their rights and obligations and remind companies that they must inform their customers.