Supplier Utility Warehouse is to pay £1.5 million into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund after failing to consistently treat customers fairly.
The issue was first identified in 2018 following an audit report, and a formal investigation into practice between 2013 and 2019 found that some customers had been placed at a disadvantage and faced increased financial hardship.
“Energy suppliers are required to look after their customers, especially those in vulnerable situations,” said Cathryn Scott, director of enforcement and emerging issues at Ofgem. “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.”
Utility Warehouse failed to consistently offer to put domestic customers on debt repayment plans when they were struggling to pay their energy bills, or to take this ability into consideration when calculating regular instalments.
Additionally, customers were not consistently offered the option of paying back charges using the voluntary installation of a pre-payment meter, nor were they offered energy efficiency advice.
The supplier made Ofgem aware during the course of the investigation that it had submitted inaccurate Social Obligation Reporting (SOR) data during the seven year period to 2019.
Given Utility Warehouse’s acceptance of its failings, and its work since to put in place measure to prevent this from happening again, Ofgem is closing its investigation.
In a statement, the supplier apologised to the customers it let down previously, and said: “Since Ofgem opened their investigation, we’ve taken steps to update our payment collections process and expand our specialist Payment Solutions Team, whose focus is serving customers with arrears on their accounts and who may be struggling to pay their bills.”