The UK’s biggest energy firms have been told by the energy regulator to refund 3.5 million domestic customers a total of £153 million from closed accounts, following complaints by consumer groups.
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The UK’s ‘Big Six’ – British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power, E.On, EDF and npower – faced criticism when it was revealed that they had more than £400 million left in accounts from around 3.5 million domestic customers and 300,000 businesses, after these had switched suppliers.
Energy watchdog Ofgem has now ordered the companies to hand back the cash, for a total amount of more than £153 million.
Dermot Nolan, Ofgem chief executive, said, “Today’s industry announcement is an encouraging first step by the six largest energy companies to address Ofgem’s call to reunite customers with their cash.
“This issue is part of a wider challenge of delivering good customer service that the industry must crack if they are to rebuild customer trust and confidence. And while Ofgem welcomes the progress made to date, suppliers must now do everything within their powers to return the money and prevent a similar situation from happening again.”
Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, added, “We are urging former customers to come forward and make a claim. Customers who think they haven’t left a forwarding address or a final meter reading when they moved or switched should contact their old supplier.”
The Big Six have seen their customer base shrinking over the past few years. While they owned 99.8% of the market five years ago, they now have 92.4%, because competition from independent suppliers – including renewable energy providers such as Good Energy and Ecotricity – has increased.
Energy secretary Ed Davey commented on the figures, “With over two million customers now signed up to independent suppliers overall it’s clear that households increasingly trust them and are benefitting from competition in the market.”
Photo: Lydia via flickr