Utility Week

Utility Week 17th April 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/495805

Contents of this Issue


Page 25 of 31

26 | 17TH - 23RD APRIL 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Customers This week Scottish Power backs role of doorstep sales In a submission to the CMA, Scottish Power says doorstep sales engage those who lack internet Energy retailer Scottish Power has backed the use of doorstep sales to better engage with inactive customers who are otherwise difficult to reach. In its final written submission to the Competition and Mar- kets Authority (CMA) before its summer report on the ongoing probe, Scottish Power stopped short of calling for a return of doorstep selling but urged the regulator to consider the benefits it offers in terms of engaging with those consumers without internet access. "It would be useful for the CMA to consider whether the use of face-to-face sales techniques could play a role in enhancing competition for consumers who are cur- rently hard to reach via online or telephone sales chan- nels, while ensuring appropriate consumer protection," the supplier said. Scottish Power added that customers who are strug- gling financially are only "slightly more likely" to be con- sidered sticky energy customers, with a similar trend seen in those over the age of 65 or with limited qualifications. The largest predictor of a disengaged customer is internet access, with 75 per cent of those without found to have not switched in the past three years or even to have considered switching. "This suggests that the end- ing of face-to-face sales is likely to have had a significant effect on engagement," Scottish Power said. The controversial practice of marketing energy deals door-to-door resulted in multimillion pound fines for the big six energy companies, including an £8.5 million Ofgem penalty levelled against Scottish Power in 2013. JA ENERGY Utilita offers multi- channel payment Independent energy supplier Utilita has launched a multi- channel payment solution for its smart meter customers, which will allow them to pay bills using smart devices as well as cash payments. The solution, in partnership with PayPoint, allows payment by cash at a PayPoint shop or by credit and debit card using a mobile phone, tablet or PC. Utilita's founder and manag- ing director, Bill Bullen, said the company's aim is to offer customers the "best possible payment experience" using whatever method is most con- venient for them "at any time and place they want to pay". Utilita customers have been able to pay for their energy in PayPoint shops for many years. The company's online pay- ment page is responsive across multiple devices and a mobile app will be launched later in the year to further enhance payment choice and convenience. ENERGY Energy bills top list of consumer worries Nearly a third of consumers worry about being able to afford their energy bills – more than any other household expense, a new survey has found. Research by Ernst & Young, published on Monday, has revealed that despite recent energy price cuts, consumers are more concerned about the affordability of their energy costs than other expenses such as mortgages and food bills. Those aged 55 and over worry the most (37 per cent), while those aged between 25 and 34 are the least likely to be concerned (20 per cent). Consumers in Wales (37 per cent) and the West Midlands (34 per cent) emerge as the least confident about being able to meet their energy bill payments. ENERGY British Gas tackles social media deluge Big six utility British Gas battled a deluge of concerned customer queries via social media last week following news that Royal Dutch Shell plans to take over BG Group, almost 18 years aer the demerger which split the corporate group. The supplier's Twitter accounts dealt with almost 40 tweets from confused and concerned members of the public who wrongly believed that the utility would in some way be affected by the planned £47 billion takeover. The upstream oil and gas explorer BG Group has been sepa- rate from Centrica-owned British Gas since its demerger in 1997. Face to face: a role in enhancing competition? I am the customer John Allan "Microbusinesses struggle to navigate the energy market" The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating failures in the energy market in great detail. Although it won't report fully until the end of this year, its interim findings have identified the microbusiness sector as one that requires atten- tion. This is excellent news. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has consistently argued for this and recently submitted evidence to the CMA inquiry. In recent FSB research, a third of small businesses said with energy firms and consumer organisations, must continue to seek practical improvements to the small business market. The FSB will continue to raise concerns around areas such as the regulation of energy brokers' auto-rollover contracts and the use of smart meters. Energy is a major issue for our members and the FSB will do everything it can to ensure its cost does not remain a barrier to growth. John Allan, chairman, Federation of Small Businesses the cost of energy is a barrier to growth. Without the same con- sumer protections as domestic customers, microbusinesses say they struggle to navigate the market and oen don't feel empowered to find the best deal. The CMA inquiry has been a welcome development in resolving the situation and we are confident this intervention will benefit small businesses in the long term. However, once the CMA makes its recommen- dations, it could be some time before meaningful action is taken by government, regulators and the energy companies. In the meantime, we strongly believe Ofgem, in partnership

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - Utility Week 17th April 2015