Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me who has terrible trouble with energy companies? The last one I was with, Npower, made such a mess of my direct debits, claiming from the wrong account and then not crediting my bill with the amounts taken, that it took them ages to sort out, in fact, they didn't put it right until I involved the energy ombudsman. It was many months before I got a correct statement from them. It doesn't leave me with much confidence when a company fails to listen to what you're saying after many phone calls so I did what I think everyone should do when companies offer such terrible customer service and changed suppliers.


I decided to give Scottish Power a go, surely I couldn't be unlucky twice in a row, could I? The answer is yes. If I thought Npower gave bad customer service it was because I hadn't yet encountered Scottish Power. I changed to them last August and since have spent numerous hours on the phone trying to sort out my account. The first bill I've had since changing to them last August was last month, apparently, a computer glitch meant that a bill couldn't be produced so I've had to guess the amount I owe up to then. I've been promised call backs from different departments which haven't materialised and had many requests to speak to a manager or someone who knows what they're doing refused. Again, I have had to involve the ombudsman who gave them twenty eight days to sort the problem out. I received a letter yesterday with a bill enclosed telling me that it was now all sorted out. Guess what, the bill's wrong. They should know it's wrong because I called them back in May telling them it was wrong and explaining why but they haven't done a thing since then, just sent this letter which I received yesterday enclosing a copy of that exact same bill.

I feel like banging my head against a brick wall, I really do. Even the energy ombudsman can't make them listen to their customers and sort out problems, what hope does ordinary Joe Public have? I wonder how people who are not as competent at dealing with matters like this are affected by the mistakes and subsequent lack of customer service these companies offer, I'd hate to think that my elderly parents were in dispute with an energy company as I know that these companies don't listen to a word you say to them and seem to have a total disregard for their customers.

I wonder, is it just me that has these problems? Surely not. Which? press office published the results of their annual customer service survey of the top 100 big brands last September and all the Big Six energy suppliers were the worst offenders when it came to poor customer service with Npower at the very bottom, second from the bottom was Scottish Power.

I've gone back to the ombudsman as the twenty eight days they gave Scottish Power to sort the problem out has now elapsed. What do you think they're going to do? The answer is give them a further ten days. Like I said above, even the energy ombudsman can't make them take their customers seriously.

I don't often write posts like this so I hope you don't mind this one slipping in, it's just that sharing my frustration over these incompetent companies is making me feel slightly better, though I still feel like screaming.

44 comments:

  1. Your energy companies sound terrible. I'm always hesitant to allow debit from my account, but we do pay some bills this way, so far no problems. We have no choice in energy companies because of where we live and have an electric cooperative that's not allowed, by law, to make a profit. And when they do make a profit it has to be refunded to the customers. I like that.

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    1. The energy companies here have got very bad reputations and it isn't without reason. I pay all my bills by direct debit, it's a good way to pay in the main, it's just the few bad companies who don't stick to the direct debit rules which give direct debits a bad reputation. I think your electric cooperative sounds brilliant. The bosses of our energy companies take huge bonuses from the profits made from the customers they can't be bothered looking after, and that's on top of the huge salaries they're already getting.

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  2. Carry on Screaming!!
    We have gone against all recommendations and stuck with the same company simply because it was working OK and we've heard so many people having problems when changing

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    1. Arrgggghhhhhh! I don't blame people who do as you've done, it can be more hassle than it's worth trying to save money by switching, though another of my bugbears is that you never get any recognition these days for customer loyalty. I'm sure many people would stay where they were if you did.

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  3. I sympathise, and no it's not just you. Nor is it just power companies that are like this. Add BT, Virgin, banks and plenty of others to the list. All their customer service promises are all to often worthless. I despair at times. Flighty xx

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    1. You're right, there's so many companies giving poor customer service these days. I agree about banks in general, though I did mean to mention in my post that the top customer service provider in the Which? customer service survey was First Direct, a big thumbs up to them,especially being a bank. I opted out of BT a long time ago and like you say, there are many others who are falling way short of giving customers the service they deserve.

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  4. I have to speak to energy companies every day and they are all bad, please do not go near EDF, they are terrible over charging and then leaving a credit on account and not paying it back.co_op never answers their phone, British gas won't make any changes to help you. E_on useless, I can't suggest any one. My company have 4500 homes we look after, we hate utilities, council tax comes a close second.

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    1. It's such a sad state of affairs, isn't it? It feels as though the consumer counts for nothing these days. Gone are the days when loyalty counted for something or when a company was pleased to have your custom. I really try to praise good customer service when I find it as it's all too rare nowadays.

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  5. That's really awful. We don't have much of a choice who we can get our energy from. Thankfully I haven't had any trouble so far.

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    1. You're one of the lucky ones then. I've heard of new energy companies which are popping up but I'm always reluctant to change to them as I don't know enough about them. Saying that, I suppose it would be prudent to give them a go, I can't possibly have any worse service than I've had so far.

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  6. We're told to compare energy companies and switch to the cheapest, but easier said than done! It's very frustrating when you encounter problems. We kept on a particular gas/electricity company when we moved as we knew there could be teething problems if we switched as has happened when we've changed insurance companies. It's difficult to know whether we've done the right thing in sticking with one company that we're familiar with when it comes to monitoring bills on their system. Corporate companies seem so faceless and you can go around in circles trying to get satisfaction.

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    1. I really wonder whether the savings we make when switching from one company to another can compensate for the problems we encounter in doing so. You're right about companies being faceless. One thing which really annoys me is having to go through the problem from the very beginning whenever I ring up as I'm speaking to someone different who doesn't know the history, it seems that no one takes responsibility for a complaint these days and the companies don't care. I know because I've worked in a call centre and it's all about targets, how long it takes to answer a call, how long the call lasts, how quickly you can get rid of the query. It's disgusting, that's not what I call customer service.

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  7. How terribly frustrating for you!

    I have to say we seem to have been getting off lightly ... British Gas for both gas and electricity, direct debits and doing business online, it works for us (although I've probably jinxed it now I've said it).

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    1. I'm glad someone's happy with a company they're with, though British Gas has always seemed one of the more expensive suppliers when I've looked at them. Mind you, I suppose if you're getting the service you want, it can be worth paying a bit more.

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  8. Utility companies seem incapable of administering accounts. In my experience SottishPower is the most incompetent. I would discourage anyone from signing up with them. If you are already with them find them okay just wait until you move home or try and terminate your account.
    The Government urge us to regularly shop around for the cheapest supplier and the advertising states it takes one phone call and the new company deals with it. This is completely delusional. Sue's policy of staying put (which we all did once) makes absolute sense.

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    1. It's a good point, we're always encouraged to shop around and change suppliers regularly but the problems we encounter when we do can be off putting. Ofgem is the regulatory body for energy companies but they don't seem to do anything about the poor service which customers are receiving, or the many errors which energy companies make on their customers accounts. The energy ombudsman are supposed to help resolve complaints but it's a joke when a timescale is given to a company only for it to be extended when the company doesn't comply. I think you're right, we'll all end up going back to one company and sticking with them like we used to do.

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  9. I do so sympathize ... we are currently experiencing problems with ours.

    Even trying to sort it out by phone calls, you can wait to be put through, then end up talking to so many different people and still the problem is not fixed. Ours is still on-going, hopefully we will sort things out, eventually ....

    Keep on it, that's all we can do.

    Surely someone, somewhere has a good word to say about an energy company?

    All the best Jan

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that you're having problems with an energy company too. I think the worst thing is that I know what the problem is but getting them to do anything about it is ridiculous. I've spent hours on the phone talking to different people telling them the same thing over and over again and it's like talking to a brick wall, so frustrating. I hope we both get our problems sorted out soon.

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  10. So sorry that you have been having so much trouble. I have to say that we are one of the dreadful people who have never switched, but we have never had any trouble either! So I guess that it is a toss up! I hope you can get everything sorted. My advice would have been the ombudsman, but you are already doing that! Keep going I guess! xx

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    1. I think there's a lot to be said for sticking with what you know, even if you can get things cheaper elsewhere, it isn't worth the hassle sometimes.

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  11. I had tremendous problems with Scottish Power and their customer service is dreadful. I moved to Ovo (a smaller provider) and have been pleased beyond
    all expectations with them, I can highly recommend them.

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    1. Ovo is one I've looked at before but haven't moved to them as I didn't really know much about them, it's good to hear from someone who can give them a good review.

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  12. PS - I too had problems with Scottish Power's billing, or lack of billing and had to involve the ombudsman - eventually I got the power for free because they'd taken so long to try and sort it out!

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    1. I doubt I'll get the power for free, they have tried to send a bill now even though it's wrong, but the ombudsman have recommended a £100 goodwill payment to be credited to the account, I'm waiting to see if they can manage to do that right.

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  13. We can't really choose our energy companies here, we just have to use whatever regional one is in the area. I haven't had much trouble with them, but I have had plenty of trouble with internet/phone providers, so I can sympathize.

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    1. There's a lot to be said for lack of choice. Here there's new energy companies popping up all the time though the Big Six get the lion's share of the market but don't seem to look after their customers at all. As for internet and phone providers, we have the same problems with those.

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    1. It's very frustrating. I think we're paying through the nose for gas and electricity anyway, a bit of customer service isn't too much to expect for the price we pay, surely.

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  15. The horrible thing is that it's also SO time-consuming to sort these things out. Jx

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    1. You're right, I've spent hours and hours on the phone. I understand that errors are sometimes made, I can deal with that, what I can't accept is the fact that I've gone out of my way to help them to put it right but they just won't listen to the many hours of conversation I've had with them. It's very poor for a company to treat their customers in this way.

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  16. So sorry you've been going through this. It's incredibly stressful and consumes an inordinate amount of time and energy.

    We had a similar problem many years ago during the period when companies were signing up customers to swap without you actually giving permission. A nightmare 12 months followed and was only resolved when I wrote to the company chief exec copying our MP . . .

    You are right to put this on the blog, partly because it might ease some of your frustration and partly because unless these companies are named and shamed they will never change.

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    1. I have to say that it's very stressful, as soon as something else in the saga happens I can just feel my blood pressure rising. I remember the doorstep callers signing people up without their consent, there were so many problems around that time. Energy companies have got such a bad reputation in this country and it's with good reason, I'm so surprised that they're allowed to get away with treating their customers as they do, especially considering we all have to use them. The last straw is when we hear about the salaries and bonuses the fat cat big bosses are taking home whilst we're here worrying that we can't get a simple problem sorted out. It just isn't right.

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  17. I don't blame you for having a rant, Jo. It's so frustrating. We have changed suppliers over the years, usually when we've moved house and each time it has involved a large amount of time on the phone and letters back and forth because they have made mistakes. My cynical side thinks they make it such a hassle to switch, that people dont bother to do it. I hope you get it sorted soon.

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    1. I'm cynical like that too but they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. There's not a lot we as customers can do about the shoddy service we receive, however, there are regulatory bodies who are supposed to exercise some authority over companies ensuring they act as they should so why are we still getting such bad customer service? Something's not right somewhere.

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  18. I just thought of something which might help someone else ... we had a similar "event" when Lloyds Bank dumped loads of customers and we became part of TSB.

    After a week of total run-around, no access to our accounts, endless pointless phone calls and huge stress, I emailed the Personal Finance Editor at the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Within hours I had some progress and within a week the screw-ups were resolved.

    Shouldn't have had to resort to 'the media' but it worked.

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    1. It's a very good tactic. Most companies don't like to be shown up in the media so they'll quickly try to resolve a problem in this situation, however, we've threatened Scottish Power with Watchdog and they're still not bothered. It says it all really, doesn't it? They're not bothered about their customers and not even bothered if their name appears in a less than favourable light in the media, there's no hope.

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  19. Well. It happens. And you're just human it's perfectly normal to feel that way. But I like that you're taking the high road. :)

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    1. I think everyone should make a stand if they're treated this way. Unfortunately, not everyone's able to. We don't know how many vulnerable people are being messed about my these companies and who's looking out for them? As I said, I'd hate to think that my elderly parents were in a dispute with an energy company as they wouldn't be able to sort this kind of mess out themselves.

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  20. Oh goodness me Jo what a palaver. It really shouldn't be such a fuss and bother to get thing like paying a bill sorted. I hope this resolved soon.
    Lisa x

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    1. Anyone would think they didn't want our money, they certainly don't want our customer treating us the way they are. I shall be moving away from them just as soon as I'm able and hope that anyone else who encounters such shoddy service does the same. Perhaps they'd start taking notice then.

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  21. I leave this up to D I just don't have the patience for it.

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    1. I don't blame you. Both Mick and I have tried to sort things out with them but they won't listen to either of us and it's so stressful when you have to keep going over and over the same information.

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  22. I am completely with you over energy companies. They are rude, inefficient and only want to get money. Customer service doesn't happen, not in my life!

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    1. Another hour of my life wasted on the phone to them today, it's driving me mad. I'm talking until I'm blue in the face and no one's listening.

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