Recommendation 6 : “In cases of inheritance, tenancy in common or divorce, etc., the supplier must ascertain the legitimacy of the person requesting any action on a contract (opening, closing, changing)”
0- Follow-up to the recommendation
Suppliers ENGIE Grand Public and ENGIE Tarif Réglementé will remind their advisers of the relevant instructions in this respect in 2019. A portal for notaries is being prepared and will be tested in two departments with a view to rolling it out nationwide by the end of 2019.
At ENGIE Gaz Tarif Réglementé:
- as a result, the professional instruction for handling an administrative change request was improved in October 2018 and was notified to the Customer Service.
- The admissibility of the claimant in the event of a “deceased contracting party” is specified, and the treatment is differentiated for each situation in a guided process: Spouse or co-contracting party, family third party, notary.
The claimant’s mother died in August 2017. The claimant cancelled his mother’s gas supply contract, backed up by the death certificate. One month later, his sister requested the contract to be resumed in her brother’s dwelling in her mother’s name, on the grounds of co-ownership. Her brother disputed this and refused to pay the bills.
As these successors in title disagreed, the estate was frozen by the notary, and as settlement thereof risked being a lengthy process, he stated than the bills would be paid on liquidation. The son did not want to cancel the contract because he did not want to endorse it, whereas the daughter wanted the contract to be maintained, and ENGIE was not paid.
The mediation service closed the case as it lacked jurisdiction to settle a private dispute. The supplier requested disconnection.
2- Mediation solution
Place an alert on a case closed on the grounds of death so as not to reopen it without a guarantee: seek the agreement of the person appointed to settle the estate.
3- Generic observation
When a third party requests a change to a contract such as termination, no proof of the person’s legitimacy with regard to the contract is requested, which can lead to disputes. In fact, the requesting party may not have the requisite legitimacy to make any such changes.
4- Recommendation / Generic solution
Put in place safeguards in the event of divorce, inheritance or tenancy in common. In such cases, advisers must ask the requesting party whenever possible to provide proof of their legitimacy. For instance: ask questions on the context, ask for a certificate, commitment boxes to tick, etc.