Ofgem orders Utility Warehouse to pay £1.5m for failing customers in debt

  • 11 November 2021
  • 9 replies
  • 67 views

Userlevel 7
Badge +11
  • Rocket Scientist
  • 13391 replies

Ofgem orders Utility Warehouse to pay £1.5m for failing customers in debt

The important part is writ BIG below

  • Utility Warehouse failed to treat some of its customers fairly and to offer services and support to those in payment difficulty in all cases 
  • Customers were not consistently offered services, such as debt repayment plans and energy efficiency advice, which left some of its customers disadvantaged
  • Utility Warehouse will pay £1.5 million to Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund for its failings

Utility Warehouse accepts it failed to consistently treat customers fairly, which resulted in some customers being disadvantaged and facing increased financial hardship.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, was made aware of the failings following an audit report in 2018. A formal investigation was then opened which found that Utility Warehouse’s failings took place between 2013 and 2019.

The supplier did not consistently offer to put domestic customers struggling to pay their energy bills on debt repayment plans, to allow payments to be taken direct from customers’ benefits or to take into account customers’ ability to pay when calculating regular instalments as required. 

Customers were not consistently offered the option of paying back charges via the voluntary installation of a pre-payment meter or offered energy efficiency advice on how to reduce their bills. In some cases, this led to the unnecessary installation of pre-payment meters under warrant. 

During the course of the investigation, Utility Warehouse also raised the fact that it submitted some inaccurate Social Obligation Reporting (SOR) data to Ofgem between 2013-2019. This data allows Ofgem to review suppliers’ performance regarding their social obligations and compliance with licence requirements, challenge poor performance and inform policy decisions.

Ofgem has decided to close the investigation through alternative action after considering that Utility Warehouse has accepted its failings and put in place measures to prevent this from happening again. It has offered to pay £1.5 million into the voluntary redress fund, which supports vulnerable customers and innovation within the energy sector.

Cathryn Scott, Director of Enforcement and Emerging Issues at Ofgem, said:

“Energy suppliers are required to look after their customers, especially those in vulnerable situations. Between 2013-2019, Utility Warehouse failed to take the necessary steps to treat some customers in payment difficulty fairly, depriving them of the opportunity to manage their energy debt and ongoing energy costs.

“While the unprecedented and unexpected rise in gas and electricity prices over recent months has put energy markets under severe strain, we expect suppliers to continue to comply with their licence obligations and treat people fairly, including by providing support to vulnerable consumers. Where we see poor behaviour, Ofgem will be ready to step in and take swift action.”

Also see:

 


9 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Oh dear 😳 

I was put off UW by a chap who tried to persuade me they offered the best value for everything. They didn’t.

But the chap promoting them turned out to be one of those convinced big brother watches his every move, would not have an ID card as it is dangerous to give the state your data (err they already have it, plus he carried a few credit and other cards!) your neighbours will always connect to your network, the vaccine for Covid is a danger because of extra stuff they inject you with. He probably believed Covid did not exist and most certainly would believe his testicles would swell up if he was vaccinated. I never got round to asking him if he believed eating Hoola Hoops prevented you catching Covid.

It makes you wonder where such people come from. Who indoctrinates them? Why are some so easily lead to believe.

Now whether employees like this chap caused the degradation in UW’s customer service, I know not!

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Just looked the latest ofgem allocations. Surprised to see that the latest ones don’t seem to be going to the big 6. Mmm

@Lapa they probably have  had enough

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I agree but least with those names you know you are okay. I don’t think I’ve heard of these newbies. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

And initially of course, it looked like only the big six would be left, but if some of the medium sized can survive by taking on the allocated customers, then it provides a bit more choice when / if we get thru the crisis. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

One of them looked like a green company was piqued my interest but their website looks weird 😂 may just be me 

One of them looked like a green company was piqued my interest but their website looks weird 😂 may just be me 

Don’t they all now say they are green in some shape or form? They probably feel they need to, to get on the band wagon, hoping that customers will not dig too deep with respect to the level of greenness. Although I suppose none really are green but only go some way towards it. Is there really a lot of difference between them all now? I don’t know. Once the current situation settles no doubt most will be more concerned about price than professed greenness.

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

Just looked the latest ofgem allocations. Surprised to see that the latest ones don’t seem to be going to the big 6. Mmm

If you look at the figures you’ll realise why, the largest tranche are business customers subject to different rules hence smaller companies will take them on, the remainder of domestic is a small number.

Reply