Power plan complaints up

JIJI

The number of complaints and consultations over the full liberalization of Japan’s electricity retail market in April is surging, informed sources told Jiji Press on Friday.

The number of reports given to the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan about unsolicited door-to-door sales and other problems came to 325 between the start of this year and Thursday, with the cumulative number since April 2015 standing at 435.

The figure soared recently because traditional major power companies and new entrants into the electricity retail business announced price plans including discounts and began sales campaigns early this year.

Consumers who consulted with the center included one who was annoyed by being asked to buy a water heater from a person introduced by an official claiming to be a power firm employee.

Another consumer ended up signing a contract to buy an expensive solar power generation system after being told that electricity rates will rise following market liberalization.

The center also said an increasing number of consumers have concluded contracts for electricity without realizing it by signing what they believed to be other documents, such as paper for mobile handset repair.

The number of complaints and consultations between the start of this year and Feb. 9 stood at only 98. The cumulative number more than tripled in less than a month.

Besides the approach of the liberalization, a key factor behind the increase would be a government campaign against fraud related to the liberalization that has been stepped up since mid-February.

Last month, the industry ministry’s Electricity Market Surveillance Commission concluded a partnership agreement with the national consumer center, aiming to prevent problems related to power retailing.

Under the deal, the two sides will share details of consultations and strengthen monitoring of power retail operators.

  • GBR48

    That happened in the UK. Endless unsolicited phone calls and doorstep visits from spivs and con artists trying to flog their own utility plans with lies, empty promises, and dirty tricks, often cheating more vulnerable people into signing up to all sorts of junk that they didn’t want or didn’t understand. It’s a Pandora’s box of consumer abuse. Expect it to get a lot worse, and try to forewarn and protect the older members of your family.