Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, has introduced new requirements for gas and electricity providers to prioritise customer service and support. These new rules are aimed at improving communication between energy suppliers and households, especially during a time when energy bills are high due to increased wholesale charges. Here are the key points from the statement:
- Customer Priority: Starting from December, energy providers are required to put customers first when they contact the company with payment-related inquiries. This means that companies must prioritise the needs and concerns of their customers.
- Payment Reminder: If a customer misses two monthly payments or one quarterly payment, energy companies are obligated to contact the customer directly. This is aimed at helping customers who may be struggling with their energy bills.
- Support Offer: In cases where customers need assistance, energy providers are expected to offer support, which could include options like affordable payment plans or even repayment holidays, depending on the individual’s circumstances.
- Rising Bills: There are warnings that the next energy price cap review could lead to average annual bills rising above £2,000 again from January. This increase is attributed to higher wholesale costs as demand increases during the winter months.
- Enforcement: Ofgem has the authority to impose fines on energy companies that do not meet the customer service expectations outlined in their operating licenses. This is to ensure that companies take these requirements seriously.
- Transparency: To encourage good customer service, energy suppliers will be required to publish Citizens Advice ratings. These ratings will allow the public to compare different suppliers based on factors such as call wait times and the quality of responses.
Overall, these new requirements and regulations from Ofgem aim to address customer service issues in the energy sector, especially concerning billing and support for customers who may be struggling to pay their energy bills, which is particularly relevant during the winter months when energy consumption typically rises.