Utility Week

UTILITY Week 30th June 2017

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

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/842661

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 31

Customers UTILITY WEEK | 30TH JUNE - 6TH JULY 2017 | 23 Extra Energy has insisted it is making "unprecedented investments" aer coming bottom in Citizens Advice's customer service league table for the second time running. The consumer group awarded the supplier 2.05 stars for January to March this year, lower than the 2.5 stars it received for the period between October and December 2016, when it was also bottom of the league table. ENERGY Extra Energy bottom of Citizens Advice customer service league Suppliers are awarded a score out of five stars based on a combination of factors, including how complaints are dealt with and how highly customers rate the supplier's customer service. On the complaints handling measure, Extra Energy delivered the worst score recorded by Citizens Advice – 1,916 per 100,000 customers – for the first three months of this year. The supplier's managing director of operations, Ben Jones, said it has "always been honest and transparent about the growing pains" the company has experienced. "But we've also always been clear that we are making unprecedented investments to overcome these issues for good," added Jones. "We won't accept a short-term fix, and making major changes to our business This week New marketing rules come into force Aim is to promote tariff transparency and fair treatment while allowing supplier differentiation Changes to electricity and gas supply licence conditions relating to supplier marketing of products have come into effect. Ofgem announced its intention to introduce five "informed choices" principles to replace the existing SLC 25 licence condition in April. The new rules kicked in on 23 June aer a cooling off period to help companies transition. The principles mark a significant shi away from prescriptive regulation. Writing for Utility Week, Ofgem senior partner Rachel Fletcher said the principles-based strategy is "bearing fruit", adding: "There are further changes to come. For example, we will tackle the 100-plus pages of rules on bills and other communications. Many customers find these communications confusing." The objective of the new marketing rules is to promote transparency and fair treatment of domestic energy consumers while allowing suppliers to differentiate their approaches to selling. Three of the principles aim to promote tariff comparability and two are targeted at sales and marketing tactics. The new principles include a requirement for suppliers to ensure tariff structures, terms and conditions "are clear and easily comprehensible" and that tariffs are "easily distinguishable from each other". The licensee and its representatives must not "mislead or otherwise use inappropriate tactics, including high-pressure sales techniques, when selling or marketing to domestic customers". And the licensee and its representatives may recommend only those domestic energy tariffs that are "appropriate" for a specific customer. JG ENERGY Small businesses given protection Private sector bosses have welcomed the introduction of new rules governing the way energy suppliers deal with small businesses, which come into force this week. The measures follow a two- year investigation into the energy market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found 45 per cent of small businesses stuck on standard variable tariffs. In June last year, the CMA published a list of remedies, suppliers must comply with, including ending the practice of locking small firms into automatic rollover contracts, and an obligation to publish details of all the tariffs available. Also from this week, microbusinesses will need to provide only two relevant pieces of information – a postcode and rate of consumption – to get a personalised quote. The chairman of the Federation of Small Business, Mike Cherry, said the measures were a "step in the right direction", adding: "Published prices and a ban on unfair auto-rollover terms should bring some much needed fairness and transparency to the energy market for microbusinesses." The director of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, Mike Spicer, said: "Businesses, like residential users, can save significant amounts by testing the market for their energy. The remedies announced by the CMA, particularly the halt on automatically rolling companies onto fixed-term tariffs, will help ensure that fewer are paying more than they should." ENERGY Spark Energy bundles Sky TV Spark Energy has added Sky TV to the perks its customers in the domestic rental sector can enjoy. The move comes on the back of an agreement between broadband provider Home Telecom – which Spark acquired in April – and Sky to deliver TV packages with no exit fees and with scope for break clauses. Spark Energy specialises in serving the UK rental sector, and its expanding range of home services are designed to appeal to customers who need services that match the length of their tenancy. Commenting on the deal between Home Telecom and Sky, Spark Energy chief executive Chris Gauld said the availability of "short-term Sky packages" adds new strength to Spark's service portfolio. It will benefit both tenants and lettings partners "by bringing in more products and services, creating more reasons for customers to join and stay with Spark, and adding further value to our letting agent, social housing and property aggregator clients", said Gauld. Sales and marketing tactics must be appropriate to address such challenges takes time. We have a plan in place and we're seeing significant improvements, particularly around switching." Green energy supplier Ecotricity came top of the customer service table with a score of 4.4. Its founder Dale Vince said: "For a long time, we've heard that people wanted to compare energy businesses on more than just price."

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 30th June 2017