Utilita is to acquire 16,000 prepayment customers from small supplier Toto Energy. The customers will be transferred on 10 April and Utilita has promised to honour customers’ current tariffs – including unit rate and standing charge – until at least 30 June. Utilita, which has 625,000 customers, said, “We are delighted to welcome a number of Toto’s ‘pay as you go’ customers to Utilita”. Ex Toto Energy customers will not be able to use their Toto top-up app or prepay cards after the switch, and will instead have to download Utilita’s app. The company said it would be installing smart prepay meters for the new customers.
TotoEnergy had come under fire for poor customer service. Citizens Advice could not include TotoEnergy in its customer service rankings in December, but it said the company’s average call centre wait time was over 27 minutes.
Elsewhere, Ofgem this month told small supplier Iresa that it was banned from taking on new customers, increasing existing customers’ direct debits, and asking them for one-off-payments, for up to three months until it resolves customer service issues. It has to bring down customer call centre waiting times to below five minutes, among other customer service metrics.
The winter has been a testing tine for small suppliers, with Brighter World Energy, Future Energy, GB Energy all going out of business.
In response to the events, Doug Stewart, chief executive of Green Energy UK, reiterated calls for Ofgem to be more proactive in ‘stress testing’ new energy company entrants. He said failing companies were ”new entrants offering unsustainable prices and using customer money for operating capital”. He added, “The energy industry has been the butt of criticism for some time but let’s be careful what we wish for; there might not be anyone prepared to take in the customers of failing suppliers without the big six”