Contracting/switching supplier

What do you need to consider when concluding a contract?

The contract contains the information you need to know in order to better understand your rights and obligations, such as the prices you will pay, the conditions for cancelling the contract, whether you have additional services, etc.

Before accepting a contract, familiarise yourself with the supplier’s commercial offer (the contract proposal).

If you are an electricity consumer with a contracted power of up to 41.4 kVA, you can consult and compare suppliers contract offers on the electricity suppliers’ websites.

Suppliers are required to provide/deliver a pre-contractual information template that summarises the main features of the contract.


Supplier switching

ERSE explains how to switch your supplier.

Watch the video about switching supplier.


How to choose a supplier?

The electricity market has been fully liberalised since 4 September 2006. Since then, all consumers have been free to choose their supplier on the market.

Consumers who have not yet opted for the free market are still supplied by the supplier of last resort and pay a transitional tariff set by ERSE.

Have a look at the list of suppliers or check if you are still with the supplier of last resort (SoLR).


What is the pre-contractual information template ?

It is a document that suppliers are required to provide to all electricity consumers with a contracted capacity of up to 41.4 kVA before the contract is concluded.

It summarises the main terms of the contract:

  • The services provided
  • Whether or not there is a loyalty period
  • The possibility of contracting additional services at the same time
  • The indicative prices proposed
  • Frequency of invoicing
  • The tariff option
  • The means of payment

See the pre-contractual information template.


What are additional services?

These are services unrelated to the supply of electricity (e.g. insurance, technical assistance), but sometimes offered at the same time and in the electricity contract itself.

The supply of electricity is not dependent on these services being contracted: suppliers must also present offers that do not include additional services.

Ask for all the information before signing up for these services, and be clear about whether you need or will use the services you are about to sign up for.

For more information on additional services, see ERSE Recommendation No 1/2017.

See the Misleading Practices Alert on additional services and the video on what to do in the event of bad practices.


Is a distance or off-premises contract valid without a signature?

For distance (internet or telephone) or off-premises (door-to-door) contracts, the supplier must provide the consumer with a copy of the signed contract or its confirmation, either printed or stored on another medium (email, pen drive, etc.)

In the case of contracts concluded by telephone, the consumer is not bound until he/she has signed the contract proposal or sent his/her consent in writing (e.g. SMS, letter or e-mail), unless the consumer is the one who contacts the supplier for the purpose of concluding the contract. In these cases, the consumer can be bound immediately.


How to cancel a distance or off-premises contract

With this type of contract, you can cancel within 14 days of signing the contract, free of charge and without giving any reason. If the contract is signed at your home you can cancel it within 30 days. Use any means you can to prove this, including the “Right of Withdrawal” form usually enclosed with the contract.

If the supplier does not provide the pre-contractual information, the consumer can cancel the contract:

  • Within 12 months of the 14 day period having expired, if you have not received the contractual terms
  • Within 14 days from the date of receipt of the pre-contractual information (provided this is within 12 months)

If the natural gas supply starts at the express request of the consumer within the withdrawal period and the contract is terminated, the supplier is entitled to payment of the proportional amount for the services that have actually been provided to the consumer.


What if the supplier withholds important information or provides false information?

Misleading commercial practices (which contain false information or deceive the consumer) and aggressive commercial practices (which use harassment, threats or other undue influence, preventing the consumer from making a free choice) are prohibited by law.

Contracts concluded as a result of such commercial practices may be annulled by the consumer.

See the Misleading Practices Alert on canvassing and the video on what to do in the event of bad practices.


Must I sign a contract for electricity and another for gas?

Some suppliers offer “dual” deals that include electricity and gas services in the same contract. Compare the different offers and check whether you can benefit more by signing up for both services together or separately.


How to compare offers?

ERSE offers a price comparison tool to help you choose the best offer and the best supplier. You can also use other simulators on the market or consult the commercial offer bulletins, which present the market offers of the previous quarter.

Watch the video about ERSE's price comparison tool.

Try out the contracted power simulator, which will help you to find out the best power to contract, taking into account the electrical appliances you intend to use at the same time.

Watch the videos on which contracted power should the consumer choose and on the power simulator.


What information must the contract include?

The contract must include:

  • The full name and address of the supplier
  • The services provided
  • The characteristics of the services
  • The activation date of the service
  • How to register as a customer with special needs
  • Other information about consumer rights
  • Information about tariffs, prices and other charges
  • The duration of the contract and the conditions under which it can be terminated or renewed (in particular, whether there is a loyalty period and how the termination fees are calculated if the contract is terminated before the end of that period)
  • The means of payment available to the consumer
  • The quality of service levels to which the supplier and the grid operator are committed or make available, including the right to compensation in case of non-compliance
  • The maximum time limits for responding to enquiries and complaints and the means of dispute resolution means available, including other than traditional courts


Is it possible to have a loyalty period attached to the electricity contract?

Yes. The electricity supply contract may include a loyalty period, i.e. a minimum period during which the contract must remain active, since it includes an advantage or benefit. Therefore, a loyalty period is not automatically renewed: you must explicitly accept a new loyalty period based on a new benefit.

The contract must explicitly state whether there is a loyalty period and, if so, what penalty (or how it is calculated) you will have to pay if you want to end the contract before the planned duration.

Loyalty periods in consumer contracts cannot exceed 12 months.

See the misleading Practices Alert on loyalty and the video on what to do in the event of misleading practices.


Can a security deposit be required?

For household and other customers with a contracted power of up to 41.4 kVA (standard low voltage), suppliers may only demand a security deposit where supply is restored after being cut off for non-payment.

The provision of a security deposit may be a condition for the conclusion of the electricity supply contract when the contracted power is equal to or greater than 41.4 kVA.


What tariff options and time bands are available?

Consumers with a contracted power of up to 41.4 kVA can choose between the simple tariff, the dual time band tariff and the triple time band tariff.

The dual and triple time band options involve metering and differentiated pricing in two or three time bands respectively. In these cases, the consumers must choose the period (daily or weekly) that best suits their electricity consumption needs.

The change of tariff option or time band must be requested from the supplier and is free of charge to the consumer, even if it requires a visit by a technical team from the distribution system operator to adjust the meter.

If you change your tariff option - single, dual or triple band - you must keep it for at least 12 months.

ERSE explains which band options electricity consumers can choose.

See also the video on the time band options available to electricity consumers.


Can the contract be amended?

Yes. If you want to amend any element of your contract, you should contact your supplier to find out how to submit your request. Please note that amendments may require you to accept a new contract, which may have a new loyalty period.

The supplier can also amend the contract. However, the supplier must give the consumer at least 30 days’ notice of the changes and of the consumer’s right to cancel the contract without any penalty. If the change involves a price increase, this information must be received before the invoicing period to which the increase applies.

If you do not agree with the proposed amendment, you can terminate the contract by notifying the supplier.


How and when can you end the contract?

  • By agreement with your supplier
  • Whenever you want, according to the terms of the contract
  • If you sign a new contract with another supplier
  • After a power cut, if it lasts for more than 60 days, the supplier can terminate the contract.
  • In the event of the death of the consumer or the customer’s extinction, if the customer is a legal person


Under what conditions can you switch supplier?

At any time. Simply sign a new contract with a different supplier. When you switch supplier, you do not need to explicitly cancel your previous contract: the new supplier will take care of everything.

Supply cannot be interrupted during the switching process, which must be completed within three weeks of signing the new contract. There is no charge for switching. However, if you have an ongoing loyalty period, you may have to pay an early termination fee.

Within six weeks of switching, the previous supplier must send a final settlement invoice, which can be based on an actual reading or an estimated consumption. Consumers can report their meter reading at any time, or request an exceptional reading, and pay the price set annually by ERSE.

Find out about the three key steps to switching supplier.