Utility Warehouse to make redress of £1.5M for customer service and support failings

Utility Warehouse is to pay £1.5 million in redress after it failed to treat its customers fairly and to offer services and support to those in payment difficulty.
A formal investigation by Ofgem found that between 2013 and 2019 Utility Warehouse
• Did not always 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.
• Did not always offer the option of paying back charges via the voluntary installation of a pre-payment meter or give energy efficiency advice on how to reduce their bills.
In some cases, customers were forced to have pre-payment meters installed unnecessarily.
In addition, Utility Warehouse admitted during the investigation that it provided inaccurate Social Obligation Reporting (SOR) data to Ofgem during this period. Ofgem uses such data to review suppliers’ performance regarding their social obligations and compliance with licence requirements, challenge poor performance and inform policy decisions.
Ofgem was made aware of the Utility Warehouse failings following an audit report in 2018.

In some cases, customers were forced to have pre-payment meters installed unnecessarily.

Utility Warehouse has accepted that it failed to consistently treat customers fairly, which resulted in some customers being disadvantaged and facing increased financial hardship.
It has put in place measures to prevent this from happening again and offered to pay £1.5 million into the voluntary redress fund.
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.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *