How to avoid disconnection
Disconnection is used as a last resort and follows various attempts to recover a debt. It is rarely used and only in cases where customers won't pay their bills. Before disconnection is considered, companies try to find out the customer's situation and set up a payment plan or in some cases, install a prepayment meter.
On average energy companies make:
- Six attempts to contact a customer by letter
- One attempt to contact them by phone
- One personal visits to the customer's home
- One attempt to contact them by a visit to court
- A final attempt to contact them before a warrant is given.
A final attempt is then made before an energy company is given permission by the courts to enter a customer's home and cut off their supply.
Why is disconnection used?
Without the possibility of disconnection for those who won't pay, energy debts would soon go up across the industry. This would affect all customers who pay their bills, including people on low incomes.
Disconnections hit a high of 160,000 in 1986, before competition was brought into the energy market. In 2015 there were 253 disconnections according to the Ofgem Social Obligations 2015 annual report.