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Ombudsman helping consumers claw back prepaid funds for unused electricity

Fi-Nergy was the subject of nearly 1,000 complaints to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority last year.

Kilpailu- ja kuluttajaviraston aulassa lähikuva logosta.
File photo of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority's logo. Image: Nella Nuora / Yle

Finland's consumer authority has said that it will start assisting customers of the electricity company Fi-Nergy in recovering reimbursement for prepayments.

The company, which last year was the subject of more consumer complaints to the authority than any other energy company, invoices customers in advance for anticipated electricity use.

When such billing methods are carried out properly, energy firms pay customers back for energy that wasn't used, but many consumers have complained that Fi-Nergy wasn't doing that.

According to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (KKV), some customers have accrued hundreds of euros in advance payments with the company, even if the customer relationship ended some time ago.

However, the number of consumers that require assistance in dealing with Fi-Nergy is so large that it may not be possible to offer help to everyone, a KKV press release stated.

The statement added that the authority's aim is for Fi-Nergy to return the advance payments to the remaining customers on its own initiative, but assistance will be offered first to consumers with the highest claims.

KKV began to take action after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints about the energy company last year, and filed a lawsuit with Fi-Nergy at the Market Court in April 2020, threatening the firm with fines of hundreds of thousands of euros if it doesn't change its invoicing practices.

In a reply (in Finnish) to the complaints, the company admitted that it has had problems in its operations due to an increased number of customers.

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