Large energy suppliers launch campaign to reunite cash with former customers
The major energy suppliers announced today that they have launched the “MyEnergyCredit” campaign to reunite cash with former customers. The campaign has 3 parts:
- Reuniting former customers with unclaimed credits
9 out of 10 customers receive their credit as normal when they leave a supplier. However, sometimes, the energy suppliers have difficulties tracking down former customers because, for example, they have switched supplier or moved home and not left a forwarding address. The campaign will encourage these customers to get in touch with their old supplier if they think they left any money. £153 million accumulated over the last six years remains to be claimed. The average credit balance is around £50.
- Providing continued help for vulnerable customers
No matter how hard energy companies try, some credit balances will be left unclaimed. Over the last 6 years that the credit balances money has built up, the major energy companies have spent £175 million on assistance for fuel poor and vulnerable customers.
This is spending in addition to the support the companies are legally required to provide. This commitment to vulnerable customer will continue but now through a new, more formal process. From now on, after two years, any monies remaining from unclaimed credits will be put towards funds to help the fuel poor and vulnerable. This will amount to at least £65 million over five years. Suppliers will kick start this new deal with £38 million for 2014 and 2015 combined.
- Introducing a set of voluntary minimum standards
Energy companies will introduce new minimum standards to minimise unclaimed credit balances building up in future. For the avoidance of doubt, any valid credit will always be refunded, however long ago it may be the customer left.
Amber Rudd MP, Minister of Energy and Climate Change said:
“This Government is committed to helping hard-pressed consumers with the cost of energy bills. People should rightly be returned money that is theirs and was left behind when they moved house or switched. Earlier this year, the Government and Ofgem announced plans to get to the bottom of problems with outstanding credit balances and an agreement was reached with the major energy companies to ensure they automatically refund direct debits to customers who are in credit. It is very encouraging that Energy UK’s new campaign www.myenergycredit.com will now work harder to reunite former customers with unclaimed credit balances too.”
Energy UK’s chief executive, Angela Knight said:
“This is a great campaign launched today and we will be ramping it up throughout the autumn. This money has been left behind and 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 web site www.myenergycredit.com will help you do this.
“Inevitably, there will be some former customers who will not be found and so the major suppliers are announcing what will happen to credit balances from now on. In future, after two years, the credit balance will be used to help vulnerable customers - and suppliers will make it very clear what is happening. By 2018, these new arrangements are expected to add up to around £65 million of help to those in difficulties. The suppliers will kick start this process now by donating £38 million for the first two years combined"
Ann Robinson Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com said:
“This is great news for consumers. I am delighted with Energy UK's campaign and that the energy companies are prepared to go the extra to return this money to customers who probably won’t be aware that they have a credit owing to them.”
Notes to editors
- During the six years that the credit balances money has built up, at least £175 million over and above legally required obligations has been spent to help vulnerable customers
- New minimum voluntary standards are being introduced that will make the way credit balances are handled smoother, claims faster and minimise the amount of money left behind in future. These are being welcomed by Ofgem. However, if money is unclaimed after two years, from 2016 this will be used to help vulnerable customers
- The suppliers will kick start this process by contributing £38 million for 2014 and 2015 together for this purpose. By 2018 these new arrangements are expected to add up to around £65 million of help to those in difficulties.
- At all times the suppliers will be open and clear about what is happening with the credit balances that build up.
- Any valid claim will always be refunded however old it may be.
- These arrangements are in addition to the other programmes that the suppliers already undertake such as the Warm Home Discount scheme which takes £140 off the bills of vulnerable households.
- In order to provide a common experience for all customers, we understand that Ofgem are engaging other suppliers on the scale of their retained balances, with the expectation that they will adopt similar approaches to those announced today, including the minimum standards.
Help for customers
Customers having difficulty paying for their gas and electricity and other vulnerable customers will soon be helped by funding set aside by the major energy suppliers. The funds, targeted to provide real help for the fuel poor and vulnerable, will get a cash injection of around £38 million over the next two years, building to a potential total of £65 million for the five years from 2014 to end of 2018 once the new two year commitment kicks in. And all this will be made transparent and clear so customers know what is happening to the unclaimed credit balances. Major energy suppliers have already put around £175 million into helping customers in difficulty, for example those experiencing difficulty paying for their gas and electricity. This is over and above the money they are required to spend by law.
My Energy Credit website
The centralised website is up and running today and will be widely advertised with a formal advertising programme shortly to commence using a wide range of media. People will be urged to get in touch with their old supplier if they think they may have left some credit behind and it will be simple for them to do this. However long ago it was that the customer moved, the credit balance is always theirs and legitimate claims will always be refunded. The average credit balance is around £50.
MyEnergyCredit is a signposting portal to the relevant suppliers as of today. This is stage one. The site will be developed to enable consumers to enter their details and will get automated updates on progressing their claim, how long it will take and the amount due to them. This is stage two. It is intended that stage two will be up and running by year end.
Suppliers are implementing new voluntary minimum standards to help prevent unclaimed credit building up in future. Under the new standards, any new credit that remains unclaimed after two years will be used to benefit the most vulnerable customers. These changes are being welcomed by Ofgem. The regulator will now be working with the whole industry to ensure these minimum standards are rolled out by all suppliers, so customers experience the same minimum standards with respect to credit balances, no matter which supplier they choose.
Microbusinesses also may have credit left behind when they switched. The microbusiness market has a number of significant suppliers. The major energy companies are already reviewing their microbusinesses credit balances and have committed to the regulator that they will be applying the same general approach as has been taken for domestic customers. The regulator will also need to work with all suppliers to microbusinesses to bring about similar minimum standards for microbusinesses, regardless of the supplier the customer has chosen.