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David

British Gas No Longer Communicates With Most Brokers

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British Gas has recently introduced a new policy: They will no longer communicate with smaller brokers apart from accepting termination notices.

We find this totally unacceptable, as many customers rely on their brokers to resolve billing and other problems with their suppliers.

Customers have all the right to appoint a 3rd party of their choice to represent them with their suppliers.

We have raised this matter with OFGEM and hope the regulator will intervene against such practices.

Companies pay £10.5 million over 9 August power cut

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OFGEM have announced that 3 companies pay combined £10.5 million over the 9th August power cut.

See link for full details:

Companies pay £10.5 million over 9 August power cut

This will hopefully send a message to all power generators and distributors to ensure security of supply.

 

 

 

Gas & Electricity Price Volatility Due To EDF Nuclear Scare

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We have just been informed by a supplier that the energy market is currently going through a significant volatility due to the latest EDF nuclear scare.

EDF reported that some of it components currently in use by french nuclear power stations are substandard.

EDF shares plunged 7% and the effect on global energy prices have yet to be seen. Should any of the French nuclear power stations, which provide 80% of the country’s electricity, need to be halted that can shoot up both gas & electricity prices.

A silver lining in this latest development may be the extra push for more renewable energy.

OFGEM: Price Cap For Domestic But Not For Business Customers

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OFGEM has recently published a report investigating the possibility of changing the price cap model for domestic consumers on the expensive variable tariff to a cost pass-through tariff.

In response I have written to OFGEM asking why is there no price cap on out-of-contract tariff for business customers and we received the following response:

Thank you for your email.

There are currently no price caps in place for business contracts, however we recommend that business customers should talk directly to their suppliers to see if they have any better offers. Note that if you are consuming energy on a default – or deemed – tariff, the supplier has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to tell you about other available contracts and how you can get information on these.

Kind Regards

Georgia
Consumer Affairs

Assistant Manager

Commonwealth House

3rd Floor

32 Albion Street

Glasgow

G1 1LH

www.ofgem.gov.uk

We still believe suppliers should not be free to charge out-of-contract rate at any level they wish and OFGEM should either impose a cap or make it a license condition that any deemed rate must reflect actual cost.

Suppliers Are Going DD Only

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Two supplier’s who previously offered cash & cheque payment method have reviewed their policy.

SSE have communicated they no longer offer CC payment but customers can choose between fixed monthly or variable DD.

Similarly British Gas are restricting  DD payment only to small customers (<50’000kwh electricity or <73’200kwh gas).

With this growing list of supplier’s accepting DD payment only, organisations of all sorts and sizes are well advised to set up their accounting procedure to allow DD payments. Payment by CC to those supplier who still allow it may attract a premium. So payment by DD will usually save them money, too.

Shall I Get A Smart Meter?

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Some customers have contacted us to find out whether to accept the supplier’s invitation to install a smart meter.

One thing is for sure, by the end of 2020 every consumer domestic or commercial will need to have a smart meter installed.

That means we are now in the last 18 months of the smart meter rollout and suppliers are under increasing pressure to the deadline as well as the year on year target. While SMETS1 should no longer be installed in many instances installation of SMETS2 may not be feasible. As installing the former is no longer counted towards the supplier’s expected targets it is unlikely that customers will be offered one when there is no other need to change a meter.

So if you think you would benefit from a smart meter, why wait. But if you rather don’t get a revisit to change the current meter just make sure you get a SMETS2.

A clear and comprehensive guide about the options is available on the ovo website:

https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/smets-1-and-2-new-smart-meter-generation.html

British Gas Closes Email Channel

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Just received notification from British Gas saying: we’ll soon be closing our email channel. Instead, our webchat team will be happy to help with your query.

We strongly object to such a move as many customers prefer using emails than webchat. You would have to remember the log-in details and webchats are usually only open during office hours. Emails allow customers to do their paperwork evenings and weekends. Also emails can be used by brokers on behalf of their clients by attaching a valid letter of authority, webchat will make that much harder.

We hope  British Gas will reconsider and other suppliers will not follow suit.

Telecom Users To Get End Of Contract Alerts

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Under a new OFCOM rule, telecom users must be alerted before their contract comes to an end to avoid customers paying excessive out-of-contract rates unnecessarily.

Alpine Utilities have long campaigned to bring telecom contracts in line with energy ones.

Although we would like to see contract end dates printed on bills as required on domestic & microbusiness energy contracts our telecom provider Plusnet have taken a step into the right direction and now clearly display the CED on the members landing page.

We hope that shopping around and changing all utility suppliers should become as easy as shopping for your cheapest washing powder.

OFGEM Does Not Validate Suppliers T&C’s

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In response to our recent complaint regarding supplier’s limit on their liability for causing customers to go out-of-contract, we received the following response:

I can confirm that Ofgem does not approve suppliers’ terms and conditions of their contracts with their customers and this issue is outside of Ofgem’s remit.

We strongly disagree with this statement and feel that the regulator should be more proactive in ensuring the small print does not disadvantage customers.

Mr Lande our senior consultant says: “In light of endless complaints surrounding suppliers performance it is high time that OFGEM starts to scrutinize all aspects of the energy suppliers business including their T&C’s as well as their IT systems. Only once this happens can we expect customers to be treated fairly and with the due respect!

Npower Limit Its Liability For Out-Of-Contract Cost To £1000

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Many customers are aware of the excessive cost of being out-of-contract.

Often enough being out of contract isn’t the customer’s fault but the suppliers. Quite obvious in such a case the supplier should be liable to reimburse the customer in full.

Yet Npower put a limit of just £1000 to its liability.

We believe this is unacceptable and have written to OFGEM to disallow such a limit.