April 26, 2016
Energy regulator, OFGEM has fined Scottish Power £18m for customer service failings linked to a new computer system. The money will go towards vulnerable customers and charity.
OFGEM said that Scottish Power failed to treat its customers fairly, with inadequate call handling, complaint resolution and billing.
More than 300,000 customers across the UK received late bills and there was more than 1 million complaints between June 2013 and December 2015.
OFGEM chief executive Dermot Nolan said:
"Scottish Power let its customers down during the implementation of a new IT system. When things went wrong, it didn't act quickly enough to fix them. This created frustration and worry for many customers, who also wasted a lot of time trying to contact the supplier by phone.
The £18m payment sends a strong message to all energy companies about the importance of treating consumers well at all times, including while new systems are put in place."
OFGEM said Scottish Power had improved its customer service and co-operated during the 18 month investigation. Claiming that the average call waiting time, the rate of abandoned calls and the number of Ombudsman cases had all more than halved. In addition, the number of late bills had fallen by three-quarters.
Neil Clitheroe, Scottish Power's head of energy retail and generation, said:
"Scottish Power has worked with OFGEM throughout this investigation. We apologise unreservedly to those customers affected.
In order to upgrade our old IT systems, we invested £200m on new technology to allow us to deliver smarter digital products and services to benefit our customers.
During the complex transition between systems we encountered a range of technical issues. This led to an unacceptable increase in complaints and reduced the quality of our customer service.
I gave a guarantee that no customer would be left out of pocket by these issues and we continue to compensate customers who have been affected."
The penalty is the third-largest imposed by the regulator. In December, it ordered Npower to pay £26m for sending out inaccurate bills and failing to deal with complaints correctly.
Posted on April 26, 2016 at 11:11 AM
April 19, 2016
There has been a steady increase in the number of organisations and groups offering collective switches to their customers or members. They all promise the same thing; the very best deal and cheapest energy tariff on the market.
But are they all they are cracked up to be?
What is a Collective Switch?
A collective switch is when a large group of people get together and use their shared buying power to negotiate a better deal from energy suppliers. The idea behind a collective switch is that the more people that are involved in a switch, the bigger the buying power and the better the deal is likely to be.
Quite often collective switches will offer the cheapest energy tariff on the market, but the headline grabbing figure isn't always the cheapest energy deal on the market for everyone.
If you have taken part in a collective switch then you will have received a competitively priced energy tariff that saved you money on what you had previously been paying, but there could be more money to be saved and through a process that is quicker than a collective switch. How? By taking just a few minutes to do an energy comparison on-line or let someone else do it for you by phoning an energy comparison website.
Take a recent collective switch organised by One Big Switch Scotland. The aim was to get as many Scottish households to register for the collective switch as possible. It was actively promoted on TV, social media, the radio and the press. During the registration period more than 44,000 households signed up to this particular collective switch.
The winner has now been announced and it is a fixed price dual fuel tariff from First Utility. For the average energy user (3,100 kWh or electricity and 12,500 kWh for gas) the cost will be £771 per annum.
A quick comparison on Energylinx switching platform shows that for an average user in the FK10 area, a tariff at this cost wouldn't even rank in the top 15 (it would be 17th). With the cheapest tariff on the market being £56 less than the winning collective switch tariff.
Source: Energylinx comparison and switching service.
For a G67 postcode the winning tariff ranks slightly better at number 13. For a DD1 postcode higher again in 11th place, but in no comparisons that Energylinx ran, did the One Big Switch winning tariff top the list and even if you're not a typical user - meaning you either use lots of energy or very little energy - in many postcodes One Big Switch still isn't the best deal for you.
Unlike a lot of collective switches, One Big Switch don't claim to be offering the best deal on the market, but for the 44,000 people that have registered for the collective switch there are bigger savings to be made.
Don't believe us? Check it out for yourself. Click here to be taken to Energylinx's comparison tool or give one of our friendly advisers a call and they will do all the work for you. All we need to know is address, current energy supplier, tariff and usage. That is it! Call 01259 220000 and we will find out what you could save, today.
Posted on April 19, 2016 at 08:45 AM
April 13, 2016
Wholesale energy costs are currently at their lowest price for a decade, prompting further calls for a cut in household energy bills.
ICIS Power Index have said that the cost of gas is at its lowest for ten years, with electricity costs at a nine-year low.
Despite this, the "Big Six" energy suppliers have cut gas bills by just over 5% this year, and there has been no drop in electricity charges.
However the industry points out that wholesale costs make up just 42% of a typical dual fuel bill.
Energy suppliers also buy power up to two years in advance, so what they pay for power does not necessarily reflect the current cost.
The below chart shows the breakdown of a dual fuel bill as of April 2015:
It has been a mild winter, so ICIS Power Index have argued that may be a reason for the declining price of wholesale energy but this report suggests that the token price cuts energy suppliers announced at the beginning of the year are not enough. Suppliers should be dropping the gas and electricity prices customers pay by considerably more.
You can find out how much you could save on your energy bills with our free and impartial comparison and switching service. You can compare online by clicking here or by calling one of our energy advisors on 01259 220000.
Posted on April 13, 2016 at 11:33 AM
April 6, 2016
Energy UK and the Energy Networks Association have partnered to ensure customers that require extra help will now get a more streamlined service from water and energy companies, making it easier to get support and stay safe at home.
The new service helps those considered vulnerable.
Vulnerable customers, as defined by Energy Regulator OFGEM, are;
• Consumers of pensionable age,
• Have a disability
• Hearing and/or visual impairments,
• Long-term ill-health.
Working closely together, network operators and suppliers will signpost customers not just to their own services but where to find all the support they need from any participating water or energy company.
This means customers will no longer have to hunt around to find out how to get Braille or large print bills or to set up secure passwords so they can be assured that the water or energy employee at their door is genuine.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive, Water UK, said:
"Water companies' customers are also energy companies' customers, so together we must help our customers to be aware of all the help available to them from their utility companies."
Also commenting on the Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy UK said:
"Customers are at the heart of what we do, so any project aimed at helping the most vulnerable is a step in the right direction. It is important for customers to know of help available from utility companies and we look forward to seeing this partnership with the water networks progress."
David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association said:
"Safeguarding customers in vulnerable circumstances is a top priority for all utilities, and electricity and gas network operators are acutely aware of the vital service they provide to ensure lights stay on and homes are warm. Working together to protect those who need more information and extra support is part of good customer care and this initiative will help all utilities to improve their service."
The United Kingdom Regulators Network (UKRN) has also produced a helpful leaflet for customers with information about support services offered across the water, energy, telecoms and travel sectors. Click here to see the full leaflet.
Posted on April 6, 2016 at 02:44 PM
April 1, 2016
The average annual household energy bill fell by £46 in 2015 according to new figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Based on OFGEM's "typical domestic consumption" household annual usage of 3,100 kWh electricity and 12,500 kWh for gas, the average combined bill dropped to £1,298. This is a 3.5% reduction from 2014.
The average gas bill fell by 5.1%. Going from £752 to £714. However, the average electricity bill fell just £8 (1.4%) from £592 to £584.
The number of households switching their energy supply rose in 2015. The total number of gas switches went up by 18.7% (to roughly 2.7 million) and the total number of electricity switches by 11.1% to around 3.4 million.
Since the beginning of 2016 all of the "Big 6" have dropped their gas prices between a tiny 5-5.4%.
Looking to save money on your energy bills? Energylinx provide an accurate comparison and switching service. All we need is your address, current energy supplier and tariff and your household usage. Click here to be taken to our easy comparison platform or call 01259 220000 to speak to one of our friendly energy advisors.
Posted on April 1, 2016 at 02:06 PM