Co-operative Energy has agreed to pay a total of £1.8m to consumers, following issues around its complaints resolution, call handling and billing processes. The problems arose after the launch of a new billing system in March 2015 resulted in six months of delays in processing customer bills.
Customers could not log into their online accounts, leaving them unable to submit meter readings or check bills, and new customers experienced delays in transferring to the supplier.
In June 2015, Citizen’s Advice raised concerns with Ofgem, the independent energy regulator for Great Britain, relating to a high level of complaints against Co-operative Energy. Since then, the supplier has worked with Ofgem to restore customer service levels and provide compensation to those customers directly affected by the issues. It also voluntarily withdrew from marketing activities to help focus on improving its services to its existing customers.
£1.6m has already been paid, with the remainder to be dispensed shortly. The money that cannot be returned to customers – if, for example, they are no longer with the energy supplier – will go to the charity StepChange to help energy consumers who are in financial difficulties.
“While customers experienced unacceptable levels of service, Co-operative Energy has done the right thing by taking responsibility for the situation and paying out compensation to those people affected,” said Martin Crouch, Ofgem senior partner.
“If trust is to be restored in the energy market suppliers must make amends to their customers when things go wrong. We want all suppliers to constantly ensure customers are treated fairly.”
Co-operative Energy was launched by the Midcounties Co-operative in 2011. Earlier in 2015, the provider won the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Awards for empowering customers through its User Chooser initiative; it is the only supplier in Europe to enable customers to choose where their energy comes from. Just under 70% of its energy is produced from renewable sources.