Due to the hike in energy prices, many suppliers have increased the advance payments they charge, but some have done so excessively, the Secretary of State for Consumer Protection, Eva De Bleeker, warned on Saturday.
While, given the circumstances, it is preferable to increase one’s advance payments to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the year, “in some cases it can be wise not to follow the proposition” made by the company, De Bleeker said, accoridng to reports from Belga news agency.
“Some energy suppliers are increasing their advance charges to such an extent that they give the impression that the increase is higher than that of the market,” she added.
“This could indicate that the company is trying to bolster its cash flow to the detriment of the consumer,” which would be the equivalent to taking the consumer for a bank that grants the supplier an interest-free loan, she noted.
De Bleeker is set to meet the federation representing Belgium’s electricity and gas companies, FEBEG, next week “to stress the importance of realistic proposals for advance payments.”
The increase in gas and electricity prices has been a problem since last autumn, and energy bills are continuing to rise sharply.
Most people who receive an advance bill for gas and electricity this month are expected to pay on average over 36% more than in December, according to reports from VRT News. Calculations showed that prices are increasing even more sharply at the start of 2022 than at the end of 2021, when bills reached record-high levels.