Morals Vs Margins: Utility Warehouse ordered to pay £1.5million for failing to support vulnerable customers.
Ofgem orders utility warehouse to pay £1.5million for ignoring customers facing hardship.
Ofgem has ordered Utility Warehouse to pay £1.5m after the company failed to support customers who were struggling with their bills, which the energy regulator said left them “disadvantaged”.
Utility warehouse failed to offer its domestic customer’s debt repayment options and instalment plans between 2013 and 2019 leaving many lost and unable to cope with their finances. Many customers were also left feeling tense as their options were not explained to them. Many homes were automatically given pre-payment meters, which led to further financial ruin.
The £1.5m will be paid into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund, which supports charity projects in England, Scotland and Wales and provides money to charities to deliver energy-related projects, for example, to support energy consumers experiencing fuel poverty.
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., 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”
Ironically on Utility Warehouse’s website, it states “If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, it’s important you contact us as soon as possible. We have a friendly, specialist team who will support you in the best way we can.
Morals Vs Margins
Cathryn Scott added “we expect suppliers to continue to comply with their licence obligations and treat people fairly, including by providing support to vulnerable consumers. Where we see poor behaviour, Ofgem will be ready to step in and take swift action.”
One in ten households in England and Wales are now in fuel poverty, meaning that if they heat their homes adequately, they will be left below the poverty line.
Furthermore, Low-income pensioners or low-income households also qualify for government support known as the Warm Home Discount, which is currently £140 off your bill each winter.
With energy prices rising and more suppliers cease trading every week it’s time for energy providers to rethink their strategies and embody a more ethical practice. Suppliers should not lose touch with their CSR objectives and pressure already struggling customers.