Electricity provider goes out of business

33 posts in this topic

Posted

Here's my painful experience with (the now defunct) Flexstrom.

I signed up with them in February, as my contract with SWM was running out at the beginning of April. Check24.de listed a very low tariff for Flexstrom compared to other suppliers. Estimating a 2500 kWh yearly consumption, Flexstrom was 333 euros (plus 110 euros refundable as a bonus after 12 months), compared to the scary 600-700 euros from other suppliers. So I signed up, got a letter from them and finally paid for a year in mid-February.

April 1st comes, everything seems to be in order. April 16th - I get an e-mail from Check24, saying that Flexstrom has entered insolvency, but they keep on delivering electricity to existing customers, but those who started in the last 15 days can cancel. Obviously, the deadline had passed by one day, so I couldn't cancel. I was still hopeful I would be able to squeeze as much of this contract as possible and switch again next year. According to the Flexstrom website, I could kiss the 110 euros goodbye, but it would've still worked out cheaper overall if the contract ran for at least 8-9 months.

Today I just received another e-mail from Check24.

Liebe Kundin, lieber Kunde,

die insolvente FlexStrom AG und die von der Insolvenz ebenso betroffenen Unternehmenstöchter Löwenzahn Energie und OptimalGrün haben mit sofortiger Wirkung ihre Energielieferung komplett eingestellt.

Die Energieversorgung bleibt dennoch weiterhin gewährleistet – Sie werden über die Ersatzversorgung des Grundversorgers mit Strom beliefert. Der für Sie zuständige Grundversorger wird sie in den nächsten Tagen darüber gesondert schriftlich informieren.

Nachfolgend beantworten wir die wichtigsten Fragen zur weiteren Vorgehensweise.

Was ist im Falle der Ersatzversorgung zu tun?

Ihr örtlicher Grundversorger übernimmt automatisch die Ersatzversorgung. Diese gilt für bis zu drei Monate, bzw. bis Sie sich einen neuen Anbieter gesucht oder einen Vertrag mit Ihrem Grundversorger geschlossen haben.

Unternehmen Sie in dieser Zeit nichts, wechseln Sie automatisch in die Grundversorgung. Diese ist regulär mit einer Frist von zwei Wochen kündbar – dafür jedoch in der Regel deutlich teurer als die Tarife alternativer Anbieter.

Tipp: Verbraucherzentralen raten dazu, den Zählerstand zu notieren.

Kann ich meinen bestehenden FlexStrom-Vertrag nun kündigen?

Ja. Der Grund: die Energielieferung wurde eingestellt. Sie können Ihren bestehenden Vertrag mit FlexStrom oder Löwenzahn Energie jetzt regulär kündigen – es genügt ein formales Kündigungsschreiben.

Verbraucherzentralen empfehlen außerdem, die Vollmacht für Lastschriften zu entziehen oder Daueraufträge zu kündigen.

Tipp: Auf CHECK24.de finden Sie eine Vorlage für die Kündigung des Anbieters.

Was geschieht mit Vorauszahlungen oder ausstehenden Bonuszahlungen?

Grundsätzlich gilt: Die Flexstrom AG (beziehungsweise deren von der Insolvenz betroffenen Tochterunternehmen) darf aus insolvenzrechtlichen Gründen keine ausstehenden Zahlungen tätigen – offene Forderungen wie möglicherweise ausstehende Bonuszahlungen oder im Voraus gezahlte Abschläge werden erst einmal nicht ausgezahlt. Wenn Sie eine Vorauszahlung geleistet haben oder Ihnen möglicherweise noch Bonuszahlungen zustehen, sollten Sie Ihre Ansprüche gegenüber dem Insolvenzverwalter (vorläufig: Herr Dr. Schulte-Kaubrügger von der Kanzlei White & Case) anmelden, sobald das Insolvenzverfahren eröffnet worden ist. Dies beginnt voraussichtlich am 1. Juli 2013.

Weiterführende Informationen zur FlexStrom-Insolvenz:

Weitere Informationen hat der Insolvenzverwalter auf der Webseite der FlexStrom AG veröffentlicht.

Tipps und Hinweise finden Sie außerdem auf den Webseiten der Stiftung Warentest sowie der Verbraucherzentrale NRW.

Wie finde ich einen neuen, seriösen Strom- oder Gasversorger?

Bei der Wahl eines neuen Versorgers sollten Sie immer auch die Vertragsbedingungen genau beachten. Wir empfehlen eine Vertragslaufzeit von höchstens zwölf Monaten und einer Preisgarantie über den gleichen Zeitraum, die möglichst viele Preisbestandteile umfasst. Zusätzlich raten wir zur monatlichen Zahlweise.

Weitere nützliche Tipps zur Tarifauswahl haben wir hier für Sie zusammengefasst.

Alle verfügbaren Stromtarife finden Sie ganz leicht mithilfe unseres kostenlosen und unverbindlichen CHECK24-Vergleichsrechners.

Bei der Suche nach einem neuen Stromversorger steht Ihnen außerdem die CHECK24- Experten gerne zur Verfügung. Sie erreichen unsere Berater von Montag bis Freitag von 8:00 bis 22:00 Uhr unter der kostenlosen Service-Hotline 0800-755 455 430.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

CHECK24 Team Energie

If I get it correctly:

1) All the money I paid in advance for a year is gone. There might be a chance to recover it by getting in touch with the liquidating company (White & Case) after July 1st.

2) SWM will take over the supply for up to three months, during which I can switch to a different provider.

Lessons learned:

1) If it's too cheap, stay away. I had read the reviews about bad communication, but wasn't prepared for the company to go completely out of business.

2) Stick with the reputable providers.

3) Never ever pay in advance for a full year.

Now for the questions:

1) Is it worth getting in touch with a lawyer (I have legal insurance) and/or the Verbraucherzentrale? What are my chances of getting a refund of the full amount (minus, of course, the cost for expended energy)

2) Can anybody suggest a reliable provider from the list here: http://bit.ly/12sDHof?

Thanks.

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Posted

1. Write down your meter reading (with date).

2. Cancel your contract with them in writing.

3. Stadtwerke München will provide you with electricity, they are what is called "Grundversorger". They will call you in few days. If you do nothing within three months, you automatically accept them as your future provider. I'd chose them, and I would ask a German friend to translate this letter bit by bit and help you make a contract with them.

What you can do about your payments: You can claim restitution from their liquidator. If you get a refund depends on how much they owe. If you have legal insurance you can get in touch with a lawyer to ask him if he can do something about it, but most likely he can't, but he'll be able to help you with the correspondence, I guess. The insolvency proceedings will start approx. July first, so take the time to have a friend help you understand every letter completely.

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Posted

Go ahead and choose the new provider you fancy most for any reason at all, including being the cheapest, but excluding any provider asking for cash up front. That way you won't lose a penny even if also that new provider goes belly up soon after you've switched.

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Posted

Sensible advice, thank you both.

I'd see with SWM if the price gets any better on a regular contract - the Grund-und-Ersatz-something would cost about 750 euros a year compared to the minimum of 460 I've found...

Would I be getting some sort of restitution without explicitly requesting it (via a lawyer or otherwise)?

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Posted

Would I be getting some sort of restitution without explicitly requesting it (via a lawyer or otherwise)?

No. You need to do what is called "Ihre Ansprüche geltend machen". It's necessary for the proceedings.

would cost about 750 euros a year compared to the minimum of 460 I've found

What happened to "if it's too cheap, stay away" ;) ?

Cheap offers are often offers from affiliate firms of one and the same company. If they're broke, all their subsidiaries are broke, too. You might want to ask other Munich members about SWM in the Munich section of TT.

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Posted

Oh well, I'm not looking for the cheapest, but 750 is extortionate. I took a look at the other companies offering better prices, seems like they are pretty diverse (including the Stadtwerken of other cities, such as Duisburg or Schwerin).

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Posted

Yep. As are the rents and wages. Munich is expensive. People in Duisburg or Schwerin generally pay less, but they earn less, too.

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Posted

Oh well, I'm not looking for the cheapest, but 750 is extortionate. I took a look at the other companies offering better prices, seems like they are pretty diverse (including the Stadtwerken of other cities, such as Duisburg or Schwerin).

600 / 700-ish is the normal price for 2500KW a year. You could get better prices if you go for one of those fixed consume plan and if you count the "welcome bonus" in the first year bill.

The current price per KW is around 25-27 cents plus whatever monthly basic charge the provider has.

333 EUR for 2500KW would be 13 cents per KW. Now you know what they went tits.

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Posted

abalada, thanks a lot. I will see if there are any news on their website. So far, I just see they still appear to take new customers.

As for the money, I'll just pretend my car needed a new "something". I drive an Italian car, I'm used to generally unexpected expenses. :)

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Posted

I have been stung too :huh:

I was with Löwenzenahn Energie and until the letter from SW//M arrived yesterday 25.04.2013

I was blissfully unaaware of any problems...!!!

Today 26.04.2013 I now received another letter from SW//M kindly giving me a monthly rate starting from 14.05

As you can realise I am not best pleased as I paid the 2013 years money up front in December last year!

Also for 2500 KWh as I am frugal user.

I have today already arranged for a 'New' energy provider as I have no intention of paying SW//M any more than I have to.

Unfortunately the New provider cannot start providing until around 17.05.2013.

Just wondering how I work out how much SW//M should be paid. I assume it has to be from the downfall date - 19.04.2013 until the New provider officially takes over my supply.

I did not read the meter on the 19th as I had no idea and only read it yesterday.

I guess I will; have to 'juggle' the numbers (maybe)... ;) Or calculate... mmmmm.

Just annoyed because no matter what I doubt I will ever recover my loses.

So much for 'Billig' Strom.

So much for 'Wonderful' 'Stable' German Economy.

The strength of Europe where nothing financial untoward ever happens??? - I don't think so!!!

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Posted

Oh well, I wouldn't blame the entire German economy for the downfall of a single company.

In hindsight, I should've been more careful when signing up with them. As pointed above, an average price of 13c/kWh is not really sustainable.

Should the energy business be tighter regulated, e.g. forbid advance charging or institute the same "provisioning" system as in insurance, i.e. forcing a company to set aside a certain sum they cannot touch? Yes. Should we go back to monopoly days, with a single provider? Definitely no.

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Posted

The business model of the pre-paid providers is quite simply that the customer will incorrectly estimate his/her consumption. Estimate too high and the additional power is expensive, estimate too low and you get no refund. The advertised prices are so low, they hope to trap people, as they did the posters here.

The problem has been that their operational costs have been higher than they expected that they used deposits from customers to keep alive (or sell their product) and then can't pay their own suppliers, as in effect they are selling electricity below the price the buy it for. Things got worse when electricity prices rose over the last two years faster than expected.

The bubble is bursting, and they are now going broke.

It's always been a warning (on TT too) to avoid energy suppliers that offer long term prepaid packages.

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Posted

One thought comes to mind - PYRAMID SELLING!!!

I thought this was illegal.

How stupid I am

BTW my estiamtes for the last several years have been well within 1% erring on the side of caution!

So it must be others who screwed it for us.

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Posted

Yesterday I got an email that Flexgas also went out of business and that with immediate effect the default provider would be delivering gas to my house. I called them and asked to put me on a tariff which doesn't come with a monthly basic charge but with a short notice period (as during the summer months I don't need gas due to having solar panels for warm water). They said it's okay. So this at least seems to be possible.

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Posted

I ... asked to put me on a tariff which doesn't come with a monthly basic charge but with a short notice perio. They said it's okay.

Of course it's "okay" ... it's probably their most expensive deal too...

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Posted

Of course it's "okay" ... it's probably their most expensive deal too...

No, not for me since I won't need any gas before I will terminate the contract :)

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Posted

There are standing charges, you know. Simply not using gas doesn't mean you don't get any bills...

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Posted

That's what I was saying: this tariff doesn't come with standing charges during the summer months. It's a tariff designed for peole who do have solar panels.

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Posted

This thread makes me wonder if I am paying too much for gas/electricity... Just using SWM without looking around since I moved in.

YorkshireLad6, just curious, which company do you use then for your power supply?

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Posted

I'm with Yello, but I didn't choose them because they are the cheapest. I have a very high and irregular consumption, with unusually high power usage at night. Yello provide an online meter so I can monitor power usage precisely, get a cheaper rate at night, and don't have to make pre-payments, as they can measure power consumption precisely and send me an accurate bill every month.

It's very easy to check if you are paying too much. Dig out your electrickery bill from last year (they are usually sent around the turn of the year) and check how much power (kWh) you used and how much you paid in total, then enter your postcode and consumption in a comparison site such as Verivox You can also enter your current supplier and tarif to get a comparison. BUT - be careful, read the small print carefully - usually the first provider shown in the Verivox list is not the cheapest but a "recommended" supplier who paid to get to the top of the list. Watch out for one-time bonuses (which make the first year cheap, but not necessarilly the subsequent years), for pre-paid packages (avoid) and for contract lock-ins. You can filter these in or out using the "Erweiterte Einstellungen" tab at the top right of the comparison page.

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Posted

wow yorkshirelad6, thanks so much for the info! i will check into it right away :) !

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Posted

Just annoyed because no matter what I doubt I will ever recover my loses.

So much for 'Billig' Strom.

So much for 'Wonderful' 'Stable' German Economy.

The strength of Europe where nothing financial untoward ever happens??? - I don't think so!!!

This has nothing to do with Germany. The idea of liberalising everything, including natural monopolies (electricity and water providers, railways, post) is coming from competition maniacs in Brussels (the EU).

They are now trying to do the same with water and then railways.

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Posted

Natural monopolies? Now that's really the term of the year. Competition maniacs ?

I for myself am glad that there is competition. Wonder how the use of the internet would work if there would still be the old state-run postal service.

If someone takes the risk (yes , that's a risk, every adult person knows that ) to pay upfront in any kind of business he /she shouldn' t complain if thing go wrong. Rather ask themselves why they were so naive.

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Posted

sosarx

Are you kidding? I would be surprised if there is not something that you are NOT paying for up front.

Insurance? Various? House, Personal, Travel, Auto, Dental, Health?

I thought Germany was a tightly regulated country and that it had safe guards in place to STOP this kind of thing happening.

I also thought that there would be some sort of Government protection and compensation for when it does.

In the UK customers funds in Banks are protected upto I think about £85k.

I do not understand where my money has gone if all of the 500000 Flextrom customers paid in advance for the electricity for 2013 and it was bought. Then it should have been allocated by the generators of it and ready for the customers to use as demanded up until the end of 2013.

Otherwise did somebody just pocket the money and not buy us our electricity?

I am annoyed how quickly the wonderful SW/M came to my rescue offering to take over my problem and charge me a lot more than I have already paid! Also how when I telephoned them they naturally assumed that I would continue to use them to supply me at their high rates....

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