We’ve issued a press release about the way that Pure Planet has been rated by Citizen’s Advice.
Our founders are unhappy that we’ve been given a zero rating for the way we handle complaints - simply because we don’t have an inbound call centre.
Citizens Advice has access to Pure Planet’s actual complaints data but hasn’t published it. If it had, it would show that Pure Planet has one of the lowest complaint levels in the energy industry, with a score of less than 6 complaints per 10,000 customers.
This would equate to a score of at least 4 stars in that category.
There are several reasons why we don’t have a call centre:
- We know that people don’t like spending ages on hold
- Call centres cost a lot of money and we’d like to keep our costs low and pass on savings we make to our Members - such as when we lowered our Membership fee last month
- WattBot, our app’s digital assistant, is always online and currently answers more than two-thirds of questions successfully and we’re working to improve on this
- Members can also message our team through WattBot and they always reply
- Twenty thousand of our Members are part of this brilliant community, supporting each other where we can
This is what Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We have seen too many companies who were completely unprepared to offer acceptable levels of service. A number of these have gone out of business in recent months, leaving customers worried, anxious and in some cases temporarily out of pocket.
“The regulator needs to take urgent action by tightening rules around supplier licences, monitoring existing firms more closely and enforcing standards where these aren’t met.
“Choosing a new energy supplier can be tricky for many people. Our star rating can help people make more informed choices about switching, not just going for the cheapest tariff.”
And this is what Pure Planet co-founder Steven Day said: “Judging a company on whether it has an inbound telephone line is outdated and unfair. We have been penalised for modernising consumer choice with a digital service and challenging what has become a staid energy market.
“While we welcome Citizens Advice’s energy sector support and applaud its work championing consumers and highlighting poor customer service, we strongly urge it to modernise and review its star rating methodology.
“Pure Planet is also deeply disappointed by the way Citizens Advice seems to be conflating a star rating with companies’ financial standing. It has been lobbying on these points for months and is using the release of its latest star ratings to repeat the same previously made points. These have no correlation with the results of its rating table.”
This is one of the topics we’d like to talk to Community members about later this month when several of you guys are coming to Bath for a day with the Pure Planet team :up:
15-03-19, 08:19MarcPure Planet unhappy with outdated and unfair rating from Citizen’s Advice
15-03-19, 12:29Strutt G
Dear Citizens Advice,
You continue to be a great listener offering great advice and a great consumer service to multitudes of people.
I hope you are listening to Pure Planet.
I have been a Pure Planet customer since December 18.
Before I joined I did my research and understood how they operated / the service offer, through the APP and without a call centre.
I thought I’ll give it a go, competitive costs, liked the idea of clean energy and to be honest I needed to up my game towards sustainability stuff, and with a view of trialling an APP based service with the future in mind.
Sorry PP I used you as a GP and can confidently say I'm glad that I did even though I was a bit wary at first due to my previous appalling supplier who should of been shut down several months before it decided to cease trading.
I quickly got used to the communication tools which I have benefitted from, had the opportunity to provide feed back and assist others like I have been assisted.
PP's community forum provides "customer transparency", highlights frustrations and the concerns that are often resolved by other very knowledgable members and ultimately PP.
PP embrace and benefit from this pool of knowledge, its clearly a positive management approach - doors open for business - all ideas - customer members ideas considered.
What a refreshingly wise and cost effective approach; and if it doesn't work for you can just switch, no fix and no penalty.
I believe that we should all be less reliant on switching sites and take more control.
The few bonafide sites have and do add value but often fail on detail.
Lets face it, its up to the customer to carry out at least some research.
Most concerns are not problems just points of information where fellow customers, sad to say failed to read the information that is readily available and provided leading up to joining. We are all busy, nobody is perfect and PP does not pretend to be perfect, its all here.
Its my view the majority of members concerns are resolved positively as other members step into to resolve and assist by providing feed back 24/7. Some leave if its not for them.
I spent too long on the phone with a busted energy company being fobbed off for over a year having futile conversations with some untrained call centre staff backed up by a dishonest management style. Of course lots of call centres work well.
I 100% agree with Pure Planets press release and would hope that that you can reflect on your rating methods.
Keep up the good work
I read your post with interest and fully understand your disappointment at this rating.
I find the way that the rating has been arrived at totally outdated and not in tune with today's lifestyle. I do hope your press release today will go some way towards alleviating concerns.
I moved to Pure Planet in July 18 and have only received excellent service, for which I commend you all. Your whole approach to service is a new concept to most - Citizens Advice are so outdated, they are unable to accommodate your business model.
I do hope that this will be resolved in the near future, in order for you to continue to move forwards, showing the way to others that this new generation customer service style really works.
GIVE PP A CHANCE.
Well said, Strutt and Scuba 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏
I agree 100% with Steven and the rest, that review system sounds totally outdated, it's been ages since I don't ring a company and each time I have to the experience is horrible.
6 complaints per 10000 customers sounds like the number they should be focusing on, it's not like it's not easy to find the complaints section on your app.
As if talking and listening was something that can only happen on the phone. Are we in the 1980s?
Hmmm i have read the report and frankly it shows how out of date the CAB is. Total shock at how poorly it has been cobbled together, i never phoned my bank, i have never seen or phoned my pension provider both run via their apps and both provide me with the best possible service at far cheaper rates than the traditional call center set up, PP are trying to modernise the energy industry and clearly its about time someone did the same to citizens advice.
Saying PP customer service is non existant because they dont do things the way the CAB want them too. Maybe i should complain because i cant phone facebook,
It took me a fair while to find this information, for anyone else searching it's in a press release HERE and it can be found HERE
Call me naïve but I thought these ratings were supposed to be based on evidence not on supposition.
While you're at it...their price comparison website is misleading because although it shows the savings column in the correct order, the higher winter DD was shown with no explanation as to why (maybe it will change to the lower one in April- depends on how the scrape their info?)
Once again, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Here's an example from the CA comparison website
I have submitted the following feedback to CA
I'm disappointed and disheartened by the methodology used to produce the table referred to above, in particular I'd like you to publish the evidence on which you gave Pure Planet such poor ratings.
I believe the following from what I have read so far.
1. You have de-rated Pure Planet based on the fact that they have no inbound call centre despite them having a 21st century digitally based means of customer communication with very few complaints about actual communication with customers.
Please can you confirm this is the case?
2. Pure Planet shared their complaints data with you but you chose to ignore it for the purposes of the comparison table, thus de-rating them. Again please can you confirm this is the case?
3. Your press release conflates the size of the energy supplier with an increased likelihood of failure, when this should solely be based on whether Ofgem have concerns about the financial standing of the company. Ofgem have no such concerns about Pure Planet, this is not made clear.
As a Pure planet customer and a regular contributor to their community forum, I firmly believe you have both a wrong and a misleading rating for Pure Planet. Ratings should be based on evidence not on supposition.
Well said @woz. I'm sure we will all be interested to hear the reply.
I received my monthly statement from PP this morning and noticed this on the second page
Perhaps PP should consider removing it unless CA look upon them in more a level playing field
I would completely agree with your comments. I arrived here at Pure Planet a year ago and am thrilled with the service and price. Thank you.
I hear what you say about keeping your costs down re your modern way of doing things through the likes of Wattbot but this is ok if you ask a straight question like when will I receive my first bill an automated answer would be ok. But if I ask the question why have you increased my direct debit without notice I would have to wait 2/3 days for your reply not the same as a phone conversation or even a live text conversation to sort out problem there and then,this is called customer service with regards to the Community link this is ok for general concerns with other members of P.P.I personally would not share my detailed info.out in the community.regards GTJ
17-03-19, 20:21Strutt G
Welcome to the community supported by customer members and PP.
I'm a bit confused by your message because I knew what the deal was before I managed my switch.
If a company advertises its service offer which is that they are an APP based service company without a call centre, I don't think it's fair to expect something else when it's clear how they operate.
Re wattBot, If you first "Message the Team" you will get a human response, ok yes it takes a couple of days and you are not sharing personal info. Plus you can ask wattBott general questions as you have indicated and this tool will continue to develop as PP develops.
Its a "small innovative" company doings things a little different, but not for all.
I surveyed PP's community support forum and its website before I joined.
It appeared (is) informative and there is no need to provide any personal information.
I Looked at the FaQs, the support material, realised that communication would not be instant and that is the payoff I would need to get used to for "cost price" clean energy with no mark up!
It has more than met my expectation but appreciate it takes a little more time to get used to.
I appreciate your reply comments and it is true this is the first time I have used a energy supplier who do not have a call centre or live text system but my point is that customers do get frustrated when problems occur and need a quick response this is human nature and you are right they should not apply for P.P. To be their supplier in these circumstances and therefore would not give adverse comments leading to poor feedback from the likes of Citizens Advice GTJ
PP can't and should not increase your DD without giving you notice, it's in the T+Cs and more importantly breaks the DD guarantee.
You would or should get an email, (but if you didn't that needs fixing -not sure if it was hypothetical?)
No need to share personal info, that's what help in the app is for and if you type message the team you will get a reply (not instant)
It's your choice if you want instant communication, you can have it but it pushes up costs.
The community works really well, you don't have to post personal info as thousands of helped customers will attest.
It seems to me that CAB have prejudiced the rating with other companies. Just because PP do thinks differently - app based - doesn't mean it can't (hasn't) got great customer service.
That said, I do think there are improvements to be made around commuincation. That starts with really hammering it home it's an APP BASED service so don't expect a call centre. And I don't know if it's possible that responses from the team could be quicker? Maybe a Livechat? I know PP want to keep overheads down so that the product is a low cost as possible.
I think people signing up from non-referalls and places like money saving expert / comparison sites don't always understand it's an app-based supplier (even thought it does say!)
Pure Planet is a new energy supplier and probably any doubts I have will be sorted out as time goes by but I was a Usio customer and had no choice but to change supplier by default due to company going bust along with many other small energy suppliers recently and because P.P.is a non profit organisation and in its infantsey could this be the next one to go the same way.Pure Planet do have competitive prices and have a good customer base re your numerous previous comments and I say this as a talking point.Unfair ratings from the likes of C.A.are to be challenged going on what you say and I would be the first to agree with your very low complaints your comments please G.T.J
I understand your point but PP have a very low number of complaints, and there will always be some frustrated customers no matter which company they pay for their energy.
I'd substitute the word "want" for need in your sentence, and as far as I know adverse comments is not what has let to the poor ratings from CA, but (a.f.a i k again) supposition and refusing to heed evidence is.
Surely the membership charge is the replacement terminology for what we use to call the standing charge which was part of the overall costs incurred by customers and glad to see P.P.is not a charitable organisation and does have a profit margin built into its pricing structure which gives me more confidence thatP.P.will be around for some time to come.GTJ
With regard to the fact that PP don't have a call centre, that fact is one of the things that encouraged me to join, apart from the green energy and low prices. I am extremely hard of hearing and wear aids in both ears. I find it extremely difficult to understand call centre staff that speak too quietly, too quickly or with a strong accent. Where possible I will always use online chats or facilities, even if I have to wait for a reply.
Keep up the good work
Hello @Strutt G,
Have you has an acknowledgement to your email?
The Citizens Advice overall rating comprises 6 criteria, namely:
1. Complaints to third parties
2. Average call centre wait time
3. Customers who had an accurate bill at least once a year
4. Customers whose bills arrived on time
5. Switches completed within 21 days
6. Customer guarantees
Whilst one can argue that Item 2, the 'average call centre wait time' is not a helpful measure as it discriminates against companies with no call centre, what is more concerning is the zero score for customer complaints, since this is a separate criteria. If they have given you a zero rating on this criteria because you do not have a call centre, then they are guilty of double counting the absence of a call centre?
You should ask CA to justify a zero score Item 1, 'Complaints to third parties' by providing the raw data used for all the energy companies.
Following the links in the image below takes you to a page that reads:
We compare energy suppliers' customer service by looking at data from a number of reliable sources. We publish data about suppliers with more than 25,000 customer accounts.
Data about complaints to third parties
We base our ratings on complaints made to:
Citizens Advice Consumer Service
the Extra Help Unit
the Energy Ombudsman
To be fair to Citizens Advice (!!??) they have published a detailed argument explaining why, in their view, energy suppliers should offer a telephone number: https://wearecitizensadvice.org.uk/w...s-513b568848b1
I don't agree with much of it, but the argument about access and vulnerability is, I think, worthy of serious discussion.
They also make a specific statement about the figure for complaints: "Pure Planet and Eversmart scored zero for complaints because they had not put in place appropriate arrangements to accept referrals from the Citizens Advice consumer service, as required under section 9 of The Gas and Electricity (Consumer Complaints Handling Standards) Regulations 2008. This means we cannot apply our standard complaints methodology to these companies for this period. We are continuing to work to establish the required referral arrangements with Pure Planet." My guess is the standard complaints methodology may involve a phone call...?
I do take your point about the requirement that Ofgem appears to have regarding the requirement for energy suppliers to supply a telephone contact number. I say ‘appears’, because in Pure Planet’s submission to enter the consumer energy supply market they must have made it clear that did not provide one, but the regulator saw fit to grant them a licence anyway?
I’ve attached the score for Pure Planet below. If a criterion is labelled ‘Complaints to third parties’ and receives a score of zero, the reader is entitled to infer that the supplier in question has a high volume of complaints. It’s only when their press release is read in detail (and there is no link to this from the ratings web page) that they declare that it was given because they cannot telephone Pure Planet on their client’s behalf. This has nothing to do with complaint volume and is therefore highly misleading.
I very much support the work of Citizens Advice. I have been a Trustee for Citizens Advice Cornwall in the past and that is why I am keen that they should provide transparent advice. I feel on this occasion they have fallen short of their customary high standards.
20-03-19, 11:34Strutt G
No Lenny and I've questioned myself if it actually arrived because you do not get an auto message confirmation.
So I've pinged it again.
21-03-19, 10:52Savvas John Savva
I agree wholeheartedly with what Strutt G has to say. Well articulated. 👌🏼
good post Stephen
I agree about the vulnerability discussion and I've said so in the past many times.
The lack of phone support should be an irrelevance to the customer demographic, or at least that should be the aim.
It's work in progress and the emergency section in the app goes a long way to address that concern, in my opinion.
But, sadly life isn't like that, CA will argue that certain customers are excluded because they need that level of support more than other customers, but that applies to almost everything in life where there is customer choice, some people choose to pay more for what they perceive as a better service (where there isn't a monopoly). I don't see CA complaining that having that choice is unfair, but even if they did PP haven't set out to offer a lower level of support, they just do it differently.
As far as the last part goes, easily solved, methodology isn't cast in stone, PP give CA a dedicated email address - problem solved (if CA are able to use email).
2 things from me.
#1 I don't get why people join a company in part to save money, then complain about not having access to a way of communicating that costs a lot of money. Calls centres are really expensive to operate!
#2 Perhaps more importantly for this topic....on the way CA calculate their numbers, if they state "We can't show performance data for this provider" then why are they including the 0 ratings in their overall figures? In my opinion they should be excluding the 0 rating and stating something like:
We rate PurePlanet overall as 4.3 (made up number) but have no data on complaints and call wait time, see category for reasons.
What if you inherit this crowd then??? they seem to be uncontactable. Marc sent me an email link but no one ever answers it. I have now got the app only so I can speed up my switch to another supplier who you can get answers from. I did not sign up to this company but moved into a house that I was unlucky enough to be supplied by them
25-03-19, 12:36Strutt G
Welcome to the community as in customer members like your self.
I understand your point if you have inherited a service that does not appeal.
Its an APP based company, with no call centre, supported by the members and the community manager.
The offer is "clean cost price energy with no mark up"...and once you use the communications tools the blue sky's appear as long you accept that it is a very good deal but the reply's are not instant and so this is the payoff.
For a PP team member response:
Go to help, open ask wattBot - first type "Message the Team" and post your question.
You will get a response back in the APP within 2 days. If you forget to look you will receive a text as a reminder.
Not sure if you need to:
You can use wattBot the Robot for general questions for general answers but for specific use the above method.
PP and its members are a friendly bunch, its a different approach from a small company and as a customer I find it very informative.
Good luck for the future and hope you get the deal thats best for you.
If you stay then keep reverting back for assistance - you will get it!
Welcome to the community!
I've flagged this up with our Member services team. Did you get the email they sent you on 14th March? You can simply reply to that email with the info they need :up:
I realise you are very anxious to leave Pure Planet - I'm tempted to ask how much more you are willing to pay to have a phone number, but that might be a little unfair!
But for a company that you describe as uncontactable it seems fair to note that you have posted three times, had replies every time, and a direct message from a staff member. But no reply to emails is frustrating. Hope you can get everything sorted out soon.
I have now had a reply from CA and will post it in full when I’m back home in a day or two when time permits.
The reply from CA as does not fairly address any of the points made in my complaint, on the contrary it appears to be a poor attempt to justify their methodology.
Below is an excerpt from their reply:
We developed the star rating methodology in consultation with industry and other stakeholders, including the energy regulator, Ofgem. The rating scores suppliers in different categories, which are then used to give an overall score out of 5. More detail on the methodology is available here.
As the statutory consumer advocate for energy, we have legal powers to request certain information from energy suppliers. Where suppliers do not provide data, or where we consider they are non-compliant with industry rules, we score them zero for the relevant category.
Our 'ease of contact' category is based on supplier data regarding call centre wait time. This measure was proposed and agreed following consultation, in part because our understanding of Ofgem's Complaint Handling Standards is that all suppliers need to enable their customers to complain by telephone. Pure Planet is unable to provide us with this data as they do not have a telephone service. They have also not explained to us how they meet the current requirements to enable consumers to complain by telephone. On this basis we do not think they are compliant, and have scored them zero.
We recognise that consumers use a range of contact methods to get in touch with their suppliers. We are currently carrying out development work to include other contact methods in the 'ease of contact' category. We will consult on these changes later in the year.
Our 'complaints' category is based on complaints to third party organisations (the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and the Energy Ombudsman). More detail on the complaints methodology is here.
Under the Complaints Handling Standards, suppliers are required to put in place processes to accept referrals of consumers who contact the consumer service. This is designed to help consumers who have more serious or urgent problems. Pure Planet have failed to put these referrals in place, which means that when their customers contact our service by telephone and would benefit from a referral we are unable to provide this service.
The methodology we use to calculate complaints performance is a weighted average, with consumer service referral cases counting more than advice-only cases. Because Pure Planet cannot accept these referrals, we are unable to apply our standard methodology. As a result we have scored them zero in this category.
30-03-19, 17:07Strutt G
We all had the same standard response.
At the time of marking energy companies with their methodology you would of thought that at the very least the CA's editor could of added some favourable words when summing up the editors notes.
21-04-19, 23:34GwyndyMy experiences.
Caution this could turn into a rant....
Okay, not mentioning names, much, but just to put things in perspective for Citizens Advice (and to be fair, they may be concerned about the people who can't use an app).
I have recent experience of 3 energy companies.
I have been with them since 2013 (ish), a couple of years ago, depending who you listen to, company 1 (who used to have a name indicating they didn't create much 'CO2') changed name/merged/was bought out by another company.
Last year, after numerous years of pretty good service, this company changed some of it's systems, at which point everything went wrong.
Eight months I spent on phone calls with 20+ minute waits, online messages, facebook messages, and emails, before eventually the Ombudsman sorted everything out (in theory).
I've since spent four months still struggling to get them to sort my bills via reading from my 'Smart Meter' - and they never gave me instructions for it.
On 22nd March, I got this email in response to an email I sent before Christmas:
Ticket ID: 41924
We are just writing to you to let you know we are still looking into your issue. The team have prioritised a response to your email as it has now been more than 10 days since you first contacted us.
We will come back to you shortly.
We apologise for the delay and thank you for your patience.
The really, really, silly thing? I get a covering note with my bill emails that starts off:
You may have read on social media or Trustpilot that we are not dealing satisfactorily with your billing enquiries. We know sometimes you may get a bill from us that is different to what you might have expected. Please don’t worry. We are here to help you.
'Company 2' is currently advertising a lot on the television, unfortunately I will never know whether a 'unicorn will appear' because after signing up to join them on 13th March of this year, and being given a joining date of 3rd April, I heard nothing more.
On 2nd April, I phoned 'Company 2,'
Spent 15 minutes on phone, so much for the "3 minute call wait" to get through to someone, who didn't give me her name, did not seem to have a clue what was going on, and eventually decided that despite the 'Unicorn' website telling me I would be a customer on 3rd April - I wasn't even on 'Unicorn's' system.
What really annoyed me though is that they offered no advice as to what I should do now. I had to actually suggest myself that "oh, does this mean I need to go and register again" - in the possibly forlorn hope that this time the 'Unicorn's' website won't make false promises.
Telephone contact centres are no use, if the people manning them are unwilling, or unable to help,.
I'm just lucky that someone recommended you on a facebook group (unfortunately I can't get them their £25 Amazon Voucher as they never responded to my PM).
When I told my previous supplier I was switching to Pure Planet the agent said "Oh...the app-only ones. You know you won't be able to call them?"
To which I replied that I had been on the phone to them for 40 minutes so far and had already been cut off and had to go through security checks twice.
Really don't see how having to go through a call centre is supposed to be a plus point for anyone...