Common Problems with Energy Suppliers
Here are some of the increasingly common complaints we hear from businesses regarding their energy suppliers. At Torse we aim to ensure that these do not happen to you when your business signs up to an agreement from an energy supplier, and if the worst comes to the worst we will do everything in our power to rectify such issues:
- Punitive ‘Out of Contract’ rates, sometimes 300% over standard rates
- No VAT Invoices,incorrect billing, current and historic overcharging
- Accounting costs for estimated billing and reconciliation
- Contract validation, Registration and Objection issues
- Endless telemarketing harassment, cross-selling calls ..’adding value’
- Mis-selling from sales agencies at the door and on the ‘phone
- Unfair contract terms? T&Cs many a lawyer would struggle to comprehend
- Problems with meter profiles –getting them changed a saga
- New connections/ meter changes ‘left in the lurch’
- Misinformation about Smart metering for NHHly sites
- Inexperienced and poorly informed Customer Services
- Difficulty in contacting suppliers for anything
- ‘System Errors’ sending out threatening letters in error
Whilst it’s fair to say most of our clients don’t experience all the aforementioned woes all the time, that is because together we ensure we do what we can to proactively prevent such things happening. That said, in our perpetual battle with the systems and ‘unfortunate errors’ made by suppliers, along with increasingly reduced levels of support staff, often what should be relatively straight forward becomes something of a minefield. Whilst the vast majority of energy contracts that are managed on behalf of clients run smoothly, omissions, misunderstandings, inadequate levels of information and mistakes can be punished extremely harshly by suppliers.
One Sided Relationships
Any sensible business entering into an energy contract trusts/hopes that dealing with ‘reputable’ suppliers that they will have a mutually beneficial/reciprocal relationship, after all ‘I’m the client’. Well let’s just say much of these commercial relationships are somewhat one-sided. Whilst Torse favour appropriate contractual commitments; there would [and was] be chaos in the industry without. One has to question the real need for ’90 days notice’, 3-year un-negotiated rollover contracts, directors of Ltd companies being held liable for energy contracts, take or pay clauses being implemented even when the supplier has based a contract on incorrect information they provided, back-billing clients for years – even though a meter no longer exists, charging clients on the basis of fabricated meter reads, signing up sites over the phone where the manager in charge has expressly informed them such decisions lie with Head Office, refusing to accept written ‘Notices of termination’ from clients, threatening legal action for thousands of clients because of a systems error [ we in turn were threatened with legal action if we continued to draw this issue to the attention of our clients!]…sadly the list goes on.
Whilst for fear of litigation limits our ability to specify which suppliers are at fault, it would be fair to say there are few innocent suppliers. If the suppliers had to pay £1 for every systems fault we have had to deal with over the years, it would make for quite a Christmas Club.
Recent surveys suggest that some suppliers have acknowledged the need to improve their customer service. It will be interesting to see what they do; after all much of the lack of adequate service is closely correlated with the cutbacks across the industry in those very departments. What do we think, they’re going to re-employ them and all the long-term financial commitment that will require or perhaps the spend will be on marketing ‘spin’ and ‘lifestyle advertising’ actually selling other products.
Where does that leave us?
The reality is a perpetual struggle to manage the foibles, processes, systems and whims of the suppliers. At the end of the day, a supplier is under enormous shareholder pressure to maintain/increase the margins they make from their customers. Whilst they need organisations like Torse to seek tenders from them on behalf of clients, they don’t really like Full-Service Brokers because they know we will be making sure those margins are not at the expense of our clients.
- Remember if it looks or sounds too good to be true. There’s a catch!
- Before you sign anything [Never agree to something over the ‘phone until it’s confirmed in writing]. Get a professional to make sure it’s right for you.
- If the worst happens, don’t give in, once again get a full-service broker like Torse to sort things out for you. It’s what we do and we do it well.