Ofgem started engaging with Co-operative Energy following a steep increase in customer complaints, reported to Ofgem and to Citizen’s Advice. These were caused by customers being unable to log into their accounts online, leaving them unable to submit meter readings or check their bill. Bills were delayed and direct debit updates stopped. New customers also experienced delay transferring to the supplier. It also took too long to resolve a significant number of customer complaints. The issues were the result of the introduction of a new IT system in March 2015.
Since then, the supplier has worked well with Ofgem to restore customer service levels and provide compensation to those customers directly affected by the issues. It also voluntarily withdrew from marketing activities to help focus on improving its services to its existing customers.
Co-operative Energy has given assurances that adequate processes and systems are now in place to ensure it meets its obligations and that it will provide the level of service that its customers should expect to receive.
Martin Crouch, Ofgem senior partner said “While customers experienced unacceptable levels of service, Co-operative Energy has done the right thing by taking responsibility for the situation and paying out compensation to those people affected. If trust is to be restored in the energy market suppliers must make amends to their customers when things go wrong. We want all suppliers to constantly ensure customers are treated fairly.”
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said “Co-operative Energy put its customers through an avoidable ordeal. The firm’s customers received inadequate customer service and were landed with late or incorrect bills because the supplier changed its billing system. It is good news that Co-operative Energy have taken our concerns on board and been working with Ofgem to compensate affected customers, as well as minimise these issues going forward. “Problems caused for customers by an energy supplier overhauling its billing system are now all too familiar. It is unacceptable that energy suppliers have been unable to bill people for the gas and electricity they used. Energy suppliers must start learning lessons from these billing system problems so that more people do not have to go through the same problems unnecessarily.”