Problems with a new billing system at Co-operative Energy is resulting in six months of delays in processing customer bills.
Since its launch in 2011, the energy business, part of Midcounties Co-operative, has increased its customer base considerably, which meant it had to switch to a new IT system. After months of testing, Co-operative Energy launched a new billing system in April this year.
Pete Westall, newly appointed group general manager at Co-operative Energy, explained why some customers have not received any bills for six months.
He said: “Co-operative Energy launched in 2011 and has grown to around 240,000 customers in four years. About three quarters of our customers are Co-operative members and we are the first major British energy supplier to be co-operatively owned. We are building the business based on co-operative values, with the best interests of our members and customers at the heart of everything we do.
“Over the course of the last 12 months we have planned and implemented a new customer management and billing system platform to allow us to continue to provide an excellent service and experience for our growing number of customers.
“Unfortunately, once the system launched after months of testing earlier this year, we encountered issues with the new system which in turn led to increased calls and emails to our customer service team. In addition to this, some specific issues with the system created delays in producing bills and direct debit reviews.”
Co-operative Energy produces 68% of its energy from renewable sources and it is the only supplier in Europe to enable customers to choose where their energy comes from. Earlier this year the provider won the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Awards for empowering customers through its User Chooser initiative.
But its inability to process bills has determined some customers to complain about the delay through online forums and the media. According to Mr Westall, the business is in the process of sorting out the IT problems.
He added: “We have spent a number of weeks recruiting and training over 100 new colleagues to improve the service, and we are now in a position where the right infrastructure is in place and so the situation is improving. We have already fixed a significant number of the issues and we expect to have them all resolved by late September. For the majority of our customers, the system is now working well and provides us with a strong platform for future growth.
“The last four years have been exciting and challenging for us as we strive to create a real alternative in the energy industry. We apologise to any customer who has experienced problems with the new system and thank them, our members and the co-operative movement for their continuing support as we build a strong co-operative business for the benefit of our members.”
• To get in touch with Co-operative Energy, call 0800 954 0693 or visit: www.cooperativeenergy.coop