Scope of Ofgem’s Utility Warehouse investigation widens

The regulator has expanded its investigation into supplier Utility Warehouse over customer service failings.

Ofgem first opened an investigation in June last year (also the year when the company was awarded‘Utilities Provider of the Year’ at the 2018 Which? annual awards). It was  in relation to services for customers in payment difficulties, their ability to pay and associated communications, including requirements for warrants for pre-payment meters. Now the regulator has widened its scope to include performance in relation to the company’s dealings with domestic customers and its reporting on social obligations.

Utility Warehouse is owned by Telecom Plus and provides mobile phone, broadband and insurance products alongside energy. In the year to end March 2019 it reported a 4% increase in customer numbers, to 635,039, and an 8.2% increase in the number of services taken, to over 2.5 million after it added new services to the portfolio. It launched a Boiler & Home Cover insurance product in March 2019 which it said is “designed primarily as a customer acquisition and retention tool, rather than as a further profit centre”.

In its model, customers designated ‘partners’  can earn immediate and ongoing rewards from signing up new customers. It had 40,000 partners at teh end of March 2019 and said numbers were growing by 1000 per month.