best-and-worst-energy-suppliers-2015-391657BHESCo has helped more than 200 people switch their energy supplier from November 2014 to February 2015 to help them save money by switching energy suppliers. This process is made overly complex by energy suppliers who resist for reasons that are not obvious the customer. In this example, the customer was blocked from switching by the previous tenant’s supplier, First Utility, to the supplier of their choice.

What was the switching problem?

This person moved into a new flat in Hove at the beginning of March 2015 and approached EDF to be his energy supplier eleven days later. He wanted to change from the previous tenant’s energy supplier, First Utility. EDF informed them a couple of weeks later that this switch was unable to take place and stated “your current energy supplier isn’t allowing us to transfer you and we’re not sure why”.

First Utility was contacted and they stated that the account was not live. However, even after three subsequent attempts EDF had still not been allowed to make the switch by May 2015. This was two months after the initial attempt to change supplier.

Following this, First Utility was contacted numerous times by this person in an effort the make this switch possible. Each time a new excuse was given and his call was transferred to multiple teams, none of which were able to provide an explanation for the blocked switch or advice on how to proceed.

Finally, at the end of May there was a promise that the case would be escalated to the complaints department and they would receive the information they needed within the next five days.

How was it resolved? 

Eventually, this person sought written communication from First Utility that they would be allowed to switch to the energy supplier they wanted. Additionally, he chose to pursue financial compensation to account for the five hours spent trying to resolve the issue which meant he was unable to complete paid freelance work.

Listen up First Utility!

Customers have a right to switch to an energy supplier of their choice. Attempts to block or complicate the switching process represents poor customer care will discourage customers from using your services in the future.

prepayment meterLast year BHESCo helped an elderly gentleman on a prepayment meter switch energy suppliers. Unfortunately he has been the victim of shockingly unacceptable customer care in the way that his energy supplier handled his account, read on…

What was the switching problem?

This gentleman, aged 75, moved to his new flat in Hove in June 2013. The existing supply was British Gas so for simplicity, he just set up an account with them. The relationship did not start well as the first letter he received, welcoming him to British Gas, had no detail of his tariff or contract conditions for his prepayment meter.

He tried to get his tariff information by making numerous lengthy phone calls which were often fruitless and frustrating. Afterwards he continued to receive correspondence with his name spelt incorrectly and still no details of their tariffs for electricity and gas in larger print.

Correspondence was then received in August 2013, addressed to Brighton and Hove City Council, with a different customer number from the first letter sent, which warned there was a risk of disconnection. The bill was also for incorrect dates. As a vulnerable customer, he was very concerned about this which was exacerbated when in October he received yet more correspondence with new customer references numbers, informing him that his gas price was being increased, yet he still had not been told his tariff.

Finally in December 2013, he received a bill.   The details were in small print although he had requested large print, so he was unable to read the paperwork. At this point he sought the help of Brighton Housing Trust. Following this contact, large print copies were received and he finally found out what tariff he was on.

At that point he decided to switch suppliers to Ecotricity.  This switch was blocked by British Gas because, according to their records, the gas supply was blocked, although the customer was using gas provided by them to heat his home.

How was it resolved? 

Unfortunately, further problems were experienced until July 2014, when the energy supply was transferred to Ecotricity.  Ecotricity assisted with the switch, by investigating the problem and informing British Gas that the records held by the National Grid were incorrect. The customer has demanded compensation for the amount of time that was spent in sorting out his fuel supply problems.

Listen up British Gas!

Treating an elderly customer in this way is unacceptable. For problems to continually occur, shows a lack of concern for customer care. It is the customers right to know what tariff they are on, to receive a bill that they can read and to be able to switch energy supplier to obtain a better tariff.

under the bridge studios

Under the Bridge Studio is home to Radio Free Brighton, the award winning community radio station, housing a recording studio, rehearsal rooms and a space for music lessons. BHESCo records a weekly radio show at their premises under the arches of the Bridge at Brighton Station.

Under the Bridge have been subject to a lengthy, frustrating and unexplainable switching process that we want to share with you telling NPower that their customer service is NOT good enough!

What was the switching problem?

Under the Bridge Studio wanted to switch their electricity supplier from NPower to Ecotricity in May 2013. They informed NPower of this in February 2013. In April 2013 NPower informed them that they could not switch supplier due to the notification being received later than the notice period specified in the contract so they were forced into another 12 month contract at a higher tariff.

In January 2014 Under the Bridge Studio informed NPower that they wanted to switch to Ecotricity, as their contract was due to end in May 2014, so this was in ample time. They also arranged a contract with their new supplier, Ecotricity.  In January 2014, NPower acknowledged the receipt of the termination letter and were told ‘you don’t need to do anything’.

However in March 2014 another letter was received informing Under the Bridge Studio that NPower had ‘prevented the transfer because although we’ve received a valid notice of termination from you, the present fixed term of your contract doesn’t end until 13 May 2014 and therefore your proposed new supplier has applied to take the supply too early’.

Under the Bridge were exasperated as they had informed NPower of the switch as advised and had received acknowledgement of receipt in January. They were also frustrated as they hadn’t been told when the correct time to inform NPower of switching should be. Additionally they were told that Ecotricity had not applied for the supply, which was incorrect. Finally on the third attempt of the year in June 2014, one month after the contract end date, the supply was moved to Ecotricity.

How was it resolved?

Ecotricity successfully gained the supply in June 2014, nearly 18 months after they originally wanted to switch to this 100% renewable energy supplier. The reason to why the objection was lifted was never clarified but we assume it was due to the notice of switching being received within the contractual period.  We are still unsure of why NPower held on for the additional month.

Lessons learnt

Make sure you know your contract length, when you are able to terminate the contract and the notice that needs to be given to do so. Seek clarification if you are unsure when this is. Keep a record of your correspondence both via email, over the phone or if you submit any queries via online contact forms.

Listen up NPower!

You need to listen to your customers and provide a real service.  If a customer wants to switch, you need to work with them to facilitate it, asking them why they are switching so you can improve your service for the future!