Panic has set in as 2015 signals the year Portuguese families must choose which provider they want in the liberalised electricity and gas markets.
According to national tabloid Correio da Manhã, those who have not yet chosen face the prospect of bills with their current supplier (EdP) going up every three months.
It is apparently a tactic chosen by regulating entity ERSE to “force customers’ hands”.
As CM explains, the government is busily trying to “prepare a series of diplomas to accelerate and make the transition to the free market more transparent”, but even so, to comply with the government’s objectives, it is necessary that every month more than 170,000 electricity consumers and 35,000 gas consumers choose their new supplier.
The problem is that “lack of information” has left at least 2.5 million families on the fence.
Unable to decide which new supplier to choose, they have stayed doggedly with EdP – an option that will now see their monthly bills increasing exponentially.
Meantime, consumer advisory service DECO is being flooded with questions from confused householders.
Between January and November last year, thousands contacted the organisation, trying to work out which way to go.
As DECO has stressed, “it’s a matter that still generates lots of questions. The issue of deadlines and the obligation to change suppliers is still creating lots of doubts”, as is the concern over “duplicated bills and settlement of accounts”.
One thing is certain however: “Whoever fails to choose a supplier in the free market will be penalised by increases to the electricity bill every three months”, writes CM – adding rather facetiously: “But they won’t be deprived of power”.