ENERGY supplier Utility Warehouse has paid out £1.5million after failing to support struggling customers.
The company didn't consistently offer help, such as debt repayment plans, to customers who were behind on their bills.
This left some customers disadvantaged, energy regulator Ofgem said.
The watchdog launched a formal investigation into the firm in 2018, concluding that the failings took place between 2013 and 2019.
The regulator concluded that the supplier did not consistently offer to put domestic customers who were struggling to pay their energy bills on debt repayment plans.
It also did not consistently allow payments to be taken directly from customers’ benefits.
Utility Warehouse didn't always take into account customers’ ability to pay when calculating regular instalments as required, the regulator said.
Customers were not consistently offered the option of paying back charges via the voluntary installation of a pre-payment meter or offered energy efficiency advice on how to reduce their bills.
In some cases, this led to the unnecessary installation of pre-payment meters under warrant, the investigation found.
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."
What are my rights?
Energy companies are supposed to look after their customers, particularly those in tricky situations such as debt.
Utility Warehouse will have to pay £1.5million to Ofgem's redress fund for charities, but customers won't be offered compensation.
Ofgem said it is satisfied that the company has made the necessary changes.
In future, though, you can complain if you believe a supplier is treating you unfairly.
You should complain directly to the company before moving it on to the energy ombudsman if they don't reply.
What help can I get with my bills?
There are schemes to support people who are struggling to pay for their electricity and gas bills.
When the temperature drops some households are eligible for cold weather payments.
Low income households can get up to £140 towards their electricity bills with the government's warm home discount scheme.
The government has also announced a household support fund for this winter – contact your local council for more details on how to get a grant.
You can save money on your energy bill by turning off appliances – these are the seven worst to leave on standby and wearing a jumper could slash £400 a year from your energy bills.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun Money team?
Email us at [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article