Trembling before the down payment! Many households will also receive higher advance payments due to the new gas surcharge. The letters contain shock sums that the average person cannot afford. FOCUS online tells you how to unmask the rip-off and how you can defend yourself against it.

If you buy gas, you have to pay a monthly installment. This is basically based on the previous year’s consumption and is estimated. If the gas meter is read once a year, the companies then record the consumption in the annual accounts.

The gas provider checks how much money you have already paid via the monthly payment and whether there is a surplus or a residual debt. If you have paid much more than you have used, there is a refund. If the previous deduction is not sufficient to cover the gas consumption, you have to pay back.

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Due to the new gas surcharge, which will gradually apply to all gas contracts, the advance payments will be adjusted. The new gas levy makes the kilowatt hour more expensive by 2.4 cents and is highly controversial. Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck now wants to gain more time in the debate and plans to introduce it on October 31st.

In principle, the surcharge is intended to relieve companies that have to buy expensive gas elsewhere to fulfill their contracts due to the restricted deliveries from Russia. The companies are to be compensated for 90 percent of the resulting additional costs from October. The gas surcharge is intended to prevent company bankruptcies and ultimately delivery failures.

However, the majority of gas suppliers do not only want to raise prices because of the gas surcharge. Many companies also pass on the increased purchase prices for gas to customers.

However, this is not always allowed, as the Düsseldorf district court recently ruled. Customers who have been promised a price guarantee by contract with the energy providers are particularly affected. “Price guarantees must not simply be overridden due to rising procurement costs,” said Wolfgang Schuldzinski, head of the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center.

Yes, that is very likely.

All major gas suppliers could include the levy in their existing gas contracts by the beginning of January. So far, around half of the municipal and municipal utilities have announced corresponding adjustments for October 1st. Most providers had already abolished price guarantees in March 2022.

Because customers have to be informed about the increase and the amount of the gas levy was only decided in mid-August, companies now need some time to inform customers accordingly.

Due to the price increase, gas suppliers set a higher down payment. The reason for this is that the labor price has changed. This results in a higher annual bill.

But you don’t have to pay a hefty adjustment to the down payment!

To calculate whether the down payment is justified, you need three things:

Your annual consumption is on the document. With this you can see how much gas you have used in kilowatts.

Write this value down on a piece of paper.

Go to the gas meter and write down the cubic meters or kilowatt hours given. About 24 hours later, repeat the process and write down the number on the gas meter again. The difference would be their daily consumption. Now multiply this by 30. The resulting number would be your average gas consumption per month.

There are two important items on the letter that the gas company sent you. The basic price and the working price. The basic price is comparable to the basic fee. The working price indicates what the kilowatt hour of gas costs.

For the discount you need the basic price and the working price. Multiply this by the annual consumption from the previous year.

Last year you consumed 15,000 kilowatt hours. This will also be the case this year.

Now take this value and multiply it by the current energy rate (e.g. 27.1 cents). Then multiply the base price by 12 to get the annual value.

Now add up the working price and the basic price and divide by 12. You have calculated your discount.

Compare this value with the information on the letter that the gas supplier sent you.

If the down payment was overestimated by the gas supplier, act immediately.

Contact the gas supplier as soon as possible.

The gas supplier is legally obliged to justify the higher deductions. If you lodge an objection in writing by registered mail, please state at the same time that this objection to the proposed advance payment does not correspond to a special termination.

Tell the company that you had a significantly higher consumption last winter and that this will not be the case this year. Possible reasons are replacement of the heating, energy saving measures, a child has moved out, you had to look after a relative last winter and others.

Have you received your new gas discounts these days? We would like to speak to you about this and report on your situation. Please write to how high your previous deductions were and how much you should pay in the future and when and how we can best reach you. Thank you, your FOCUS online editorial team!

If you lodge an objection in writing, state how high your advance payment was in the previous year.

Gas costs too high: Compare tariffs now and save

Send us your gas bills! What do you pay for gas from October 1st? How much have advance payments changed for you? Register by sending an email to k.mitsis(a) Put “gas price” in the subject line.

A small note: In view of the very high number of user reports, our response may be delayed.