Utility Point admits to customer service issues after credit refund delays
Energy supplier Utility Point has admitted it is having customer service problems due to coronavirus-related staffing issues, which has primarily seen many former customers struggling to get back credit worth £100s.
In recent weeks, we've seen dozens of complaints from ex-Utility Point customers, mainly in relation to getting money back after switching away from the firm, with some customers waiting since as far back as August.
When we spoke to Utility Point it told us it's working through the backlog of credit refunds, but also admitted the pandemic was causing a more general "ongoing challenge" for the supplier, which is normally well-rated for customer service.
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What does Utility Point say?
A Utility Point spokesperson said: "We have seen very high absence and sickness levels due to a significant number of our staff and their close contacts contracting Covid, and that naturally presents an ongoing challenge. Of course we are committed to providing additional support to more and more customers who are needing the extra support as part of the Covid support measures we agreed with Ofgem in March, which naturally put additional pressure on the operation.
"We have also recruited additional staff and are training them in a Covid-secure office space. In addition, we have implemented the ability for more of our staff to answer calls from home and as such our lines are open for the usual operating hours.
"Adding to this we also had a large number of customers move to another supplier through an auto-switching site in a relatively short space of time. We pride ourselves on billing accuracy and it takes an amount of time to process a final bill, and a subsequent refund if required, for these customers, but we are working our way through these as quickly as possible.
"We will address each individual outcome accordingly and are aware of our obligations. We are confident that we are now on an improving trajectory.
"There are many challenges in these unpresented times and the energy sector is not immune to it. Every supplier will be working their hardest to accommodate the needs of the vulnerable while balancing their obligations and the health and safety of their team."
Most issues we've seen are around credit refunds for those who've left the firm – so what are former customers saying?
We've seen numerous complaints via email and across social media from disgruntled former customers, mostly from customers still waiting for credit refunds.
- Anna emailed: "I have been waiting for a refund from Utility Point since October 2020. The amount is £524.17."
- Bob told us: "I left Utility Point for another supplier in October and my final bill was calculated by them as owing me £473.15 and that they would take 10 working days to pay this. As yet I have received nothing."
- Rachel also emailed: "I changed energy supplier in October and despite multiple attempts to get my £308.41 credit balance refunded, I am still waiting."
Waiting to get credit back? You should be refunded within 10 days of a final bill – and you may get automatic compensation if not
Over the past few years, Ofgem has introduced new rules for suppliers to ensure final bills are sent within a reasonable time, and credit refunds are paid promptly. If a supplier misses these deadlines, you may qualify for automatic compensation depending on when you switched to it.
- If you've received your final bill, you should get your credit refunded within 10 working days. Provided you switched to it after 1 May 2019, Utility Point must pay £30 compensation if it fails to refund your credit within 10 working days of sending you a final bill.
- You should get your final bill within six weeks of switching. Provided you switched to it after 1 May 2020, Utility Point must pay £30 compensation if it fails to send you a final bill within six weeks of you switching away.
If you switched before this, there's no automatic compensation. The rules simply state that suppliers "must take all reasonable steps" to send a final bill within six weeks of a customer switching.
According to Ofgem, you should get the automatic compensation within 10 working days of the supplier failing to meet the deadlines above. If it fails to pay this, you'll get an additional £30 payment, but that's where it stops – you won't get any additional automatic compensation for further delays.
You shouldn't have to do anything extra to get the compensation – it should be paid to you automatically by the supplier. However, if Utility Point fails to pay you any compensation you think you might be owed, here's what you can do:
- First, contact the supplier. If you've recently switched from Utility Point, check your final bill to see if you're owed a refund. If it fails to pay this within 10 working days, you'll need to contact the supplier directly.
- Then raise an official complaint. If you don't feel that your issue has been dealt with properly by the firm, you can lodge a formal complaint directly with the supplier, or use the free Resolver* tool, which can help manage your complaint.
- Finally, complain to the ombudsman. If you're unhappy with the resolution, or you don't hear anything for eight weeks, you can refer your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman, an independent body that handles disputes between consumers and energy firms.
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