Full liberalization of the electricity retail market in 3 weeks - Collect right information and fully understand contract details! Watch out for opportunistic solicitations -
The electricity retail market will be fully liberalized on April 1, 2016.
In this circumstance, more and more inquiries and complaints related to electricity retail liberalization have been continuously reported by consumers to the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan (NCAC), local consumer centers across Japan, and the Electricity Market Surveillance Commission under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Accordingly, NCAC has decided to share these consultation cases and provide advice for consumers.
Number of consultation cases
Transition in the number of consultation cases related to electricity retail liberalization
The number of consultation cases was 26 in FY2014 (from April 2014 to March 2015), 16 in April-June 2015, 34 in July-September 2015, 60 in October-December 2015, and 382 in January-March 2016.
Sample cases of inquiries and complaints
Received by NCAC and local consumer centers
- Inquiry about telephone solicitation by a caller falsely claiming to be an agent.
- Inquiry about sales activity short of explanation for consumers.
- Inquiry about telephone solicitation: the caller initially mentioned about electricity service, but actually solicited other goods/services.
Received by the Electricity Market Surveillance Commission
- Inquiry about a visitor's action of getting personal information, although the visitor told that it was for electricity sales activity.
- A visitor falsely claiming to be with an electricity company tried to charge a fee for installing a smart meter.
Advice for consumers
- If you are solicited by a person claiming to be an agent of an electricity company, ask his/her name, the company name, contact details, etc. so that you can confirm if he/she really belongs to the agent.
- Retail electricity suppliers are obligated to properly explain contract details (e.g. monthly electricity fee, contract period, conditions for cancellation) to consumers when concluding a contract for power supply. If a salesperson does not give sufficient explanation or explanation you want, do not enter into a contract on the spot.
- If you are told that the electricity fee will be reduced, confirm on which conditions it will be reduced.
- Although a salesperson says he/she is with an electricity company, if you feel dubious about sales talk, do not show the meter reading slip, nor provide your personal information.
- Basically there will be no charge for installing a smart meter. Do not be swayed by sales talk like "The fee for installing a smart meter will be exempted/discounted".
- If there is any doubt related to concluding a contract for retail electricity, contact the consultation service of the Electricity Market Surveillance Commission (TEL: 03-3501-5725) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry or your local consumer center (TEL: 188, no prefix).