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David

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.

Ofgem introduces new tougher entry tests for energy suppliers

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Following a number of new entrants in the energy supply market going out of business, OFGEM is now introducing tougher entry tests for new applicants.

OFGEM is also proposing new measures with the aim of raising standards of existing suppliers.

We certainly welcome any program to improve customer experience within the energy market. However part of these measures should be a full audit of any new IT system introduced by any company new or old, big or small. All too often consumers suffered serious inconveniences and incorrect billing due to a failing system.

NPower Refuses To Speak To Brokers

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Calling Npower regarding an unwarranted objection I was told they no longer speak to brokers and I would have to email instead.

Firstly in many instances it is far too long until an email response is being received as often matter are of urgent nature.

But in general we find such a policy totally unacceptable as it is usually the broker who has all the relevant information and is being paid by the customer to sort out everything. Obviously they must adhere to data protection, but a valid letter of authority is sufficient and works fine with all other suppliers.

They are not doing any service to the customer by restricting communication with brokers.

Solarplicity Banned From Taking New Customers

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OFGEM has announced that it has issued a provisional order against Solarplicity, banning it from taking on new customers and increasing Direct Debits of vulnerable customers.

Solarplicity, a supplier with 60’000 customers, has been warned by OFGEM to get its house in order within 3 months or face extension of the order or revocation of its license.

It is encouraging to see OFGEM taking a firm stand against suppliers failing to deliver the service expected by customers.

However we have long campaigned that rather than waiting for complaints to flood, any application for a supplier license should be scrutinized as to whether the applicant will be able to deliver a satisfactory service both from within the human resources and more importantly a sound and capable IT system.

All too often customers experience great trouble as a result of a poor or faulty IT system.

Npower Rejecting All LOA’s

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While we have successfully submitted hundreds of LOA’s (letter of authority) ever since joining the industry 19 years ago, over the past few weeks Npower has made it a sport to systematically reject almost all of our LOA’s presented, citing the new GDPR regulations.

While we strongly support data protection, business has to continue to operate and rejecting a valid LOA can result to customer’s going unnecessarily out-of-contract and/or Npower missing out on their opportunity to quote for a lucrative business.

We call upon Npower

  1. To show some flexibility and only to reject a LOA where there is reasonable concern of its validity
  2. Instead of simply rejecting a LOA, they should find a way to verify  it’s validity by checking company director details, contacting the customer and if available comparing signature with other correspondence from same customer
  3. Make good on their promise of Account manager to speak to the customer to verbally validate the LOA when tel. no. has been provided as requested

Alpine Utilities will not hesitate to escalate the matter, should a customer get negatively affected by their new policy.

Less Than 4 Weeks Into The New Year 2nd Supplier Out-Of-Business

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In less than 4 weeks into the new year the 2nd energy supplier Our Power with 38’000 domestic customers out-of-business.

Perhaps time for OFGEM and the DTI to do some soul-searching and demand some rigorous tests before granting a license to a new energy supplier.

Allowing  one supplier after the other to go out of business and fail it’s customers only harms customers and the industry as a whole.

Economy Energy Ceased Trading

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Just 8 days into the new year Economy Energy with 235,000 domestic customers ceased trading. Following 2018 with 8 suppliers going out of business, what will 2019 bring?

Is the utility market sustainable for smaller suppliers?

OFGEM and the DTI will have to answer this question.

OFGEM Takes Action Against Economy Energy

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Ofgem has banned Economy Energy from taking on new customers until it resolves its customer service issues.

According to OFGEM the following problems have been identified with this supplier:

The particular behaviours of concern giving rise to the provisional order are that Economy Energy’s Domestic Customers are or are likely to be:

  • at risk of being unable to contact Economy Energy, where customer service arrangements are not fit for purpose;
  • at risk of not being billed with complete and accurate information;
  • at risk of not receiving a refund in a timely manner;
  • at risk of customer complaints not being correctly identified, logged and signposted to the Energy Ombudsman.

We are pleased to see OFGEM taking action against suppliers taking money but not delivering the customer service expected.

Hopefully this will be a wake up call to other suppliers as well, to put their house in order and improve their customer service level.

D-Energi Increases Unit Rate 3 Months After Contract Start by 3.5p/kwh

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D-Energi has written to some customers that their fixed-term contract rate will increase by over 3.5p/kwh (over 20% increase!) just 2-3 months after the start of their electricity contract.

A customer who signed up in August an electricity contract with D-Energi to start in October has now a month later been informed that his unit rates will increase from 13.19p/kwh to 16.712p!

The supplier cites increased wholesale prices, which they are no longer able to absorb.

To add insult to injury we have checked the current matrix prices and found the company still offering rates of 2p/kwh cheaper to new customers than their proposed increased unit rates to customers who signed up just recently.

Alpine Utilities Ltd has written to D-Energy saying this is unacceptable and customers expect their contract rates to be honored for the duration of the contract.

We have also asked how can they still offer new customers cheap rates while at the same time increasing contract prices to existing clients?

A communication sent out by the company to TPI’s says the price increase decision was not made lightly but future contracts would not be subject to such a price review. But Alpine Utilities Director David Lande says he lost trust in this company unless they get clean with their existing customers.