Ofgem warns Utilita: offer support to customers at risk of self-disconnection or face action

Ofgem has sounded a warning to Utilita that it must improve its practices to support customers on pre-pay meters who are at risk of so-called ‘self-disconnection’ and report to the regulator on changes to its practice and its call centre scripts. The regulatory also wants Utilita to go back to customers and ensure that they are properly offered support.
A major concern for consumers, and especially pre-pay meter users (which Utilita has made a speciality) is that in the face of rising energy costs they will ‘self-disconnect’ – ie stop using energy or reduce its use to a level that is potentially harmful.
Suppliers are required to offer ‘Additional Support Credit’ to domestic customers, which spreads the cost of bills, along with other support ‘in a timely manner’.
Ofgem raised concerns with Utilita and reviewed the company’s policy and 70 recordings of customer calls during which the customer requested ASC. It found that Utilita had or was likely to fail to meet service standards. The utility now has to change its call script – which told customers that ASC is not a licence requirement – and take the customer’s ability to pay into account to work out repayment plans.