Iresa banned from taking on new energy customers

27 March 2018
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Energy supplier Iresa has been banned by the regulator from taking on new customers until it resolves customer service issues.

Failure to do so could ultimately result in its licence being revoked.

Iresa has also been banned from increasing existing customers’ direct debits and from asking them for one-off payments for up to three months.

In addition, Ofgem has ordered Iresa to improve its customer service by:

  • Extending call centre hours
  • Bringing down average call waiting times to below five minutes
  • Responding to customers who request a call back by the end of the next working day
  • Responding to customer emails within five working days
  • Clearing a backlog of consumer emails
  • Logging and recording all expressions of customer dissatisfaction
  • Acting to manage and identify all its vulnerable customers, including offering to put them on a priority services register

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, comments: “This order sends out a very clear message to suppliers that where they fail their customers on service, Ofgem will step in and take strong action.

“It’s crucial that all suppliers provide customers with good service, including acting quickly and effectively to sort things out wherever problems occur.

“Iresa now needs to act quickly and put its house in order otherwise ultimately its licence could be revoked.”

Ofgem continues to run a separate longer-term investigation into the company.

Moneywise has contacted Iresa for a response and we will update this news story if we get one. However, on calling its customer services number, as the firm doesn’t appear to have a press office, we were number 59 in the queue.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I received an email from Iresa this morning telling me that they would be taking a one off payment for £134.79 on the 3rd of April.I have opened a ticket with them but would appreciate any advice on whether i should block this payment which falls just after Easter.The phone queue was much too long so i am concerned that they will take the money anyway if I don't act by this Thursday but I don't want to damage my credit rating by jumping the gun.Please Advise

In reply to by Richard Hernaman (not verified)

Are you making regular direct debit payments? I am on a regular DD, but IRESA still e-mail me every month to say that they will be taking the exact same amount of payment this month as last month. I made a good estimate of my own annual usages before joining IRESA and from the start understood how much IRESA would be charging according to that estimate. I give them meter readings every month (granted it took them 3 months to catch up with monthly statements, but I knew that I was within my estimated usages and IRESA sent me monthly e-mails telling me what payment they would take anyway).If IRESA have simply not taken expected direct debits and are now taking a back-payment for months not charged, I would say that you couldn't complain - you would have anticipated making that payment overall.You say this is a one-off payment - so if you have been giving IRESA regular meter readings, they ought to have been on the ball vis a vis your account balance relative to your normal monthly payments and spotted that you weren't paying enough upto now. From what I understand, energy providers were recently told not to allow a customer's account to be more than a certain amount in credit or deficit (I can't recall what the amount is - something like one month's normal payment, maybe?) and that they will be prevented from levying catch-up charges exceeding something like three months' normal payments. Is it possible your account only just surpassed the threshold for a mandatory one-off adjustment?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am an Iresa customer and supply them monthly with requested meter readings. These have been ignored twice, in November and December, so now have built up an account credit of £622 whereas, by my calculation, it should show a debit of £230. Not altogether surprising as this has been through the winter heating season and I only use electric energy. I have emailed them twice with no response. In January I supplied a reading and later received a bill with an estimated reading that was lower than the one previously supplied. I had already drafted an email of complaint when I read your report about regulator action, but not sent it yet. So far I have resisted phoning and now realise if I had would probably have given up in desperation. Have you any suggestions please?In Iresa's favour, if there can be any, when I have used Which? magazine's switching website I've been told there is not a cheaper fixed tariff matching mine. I now realise thereby hangs a tale !!!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi Re your note on Iresa I am with this company. What happens if Ofgem revoke the licence ?? What happens to my electric supply will I be in the dark??Thanks for your helpMichael

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Speaking as an IRESA customer since last September, my experience is that they could not generate any online monthly usage statements until December and their account balance information was also meaningless because they did not apply any of my at-least-monthly electricity meter readings to my account until January. It took them until the end of January to catch up with the monthly statement backlog and they now issue statements approximately three weeks after the end of a month (which seems very slow, but it is at least regular). They also seem to make arbitrary splits of my monthly single payment covering both gas and electricity and this seems pointless, necessitated because they issue separate statements for each. Other suppliers seem to have the sense to issue a single statement itemising costs for both and then netting off the monthly payment from the total monthly cost. I am not enormously worried about this particular foible because I'm coincidentally managing to undershoot my electricity consumption estimate by about the same amount as my extra winter-time gas consumption and my overall account balance is pretty straight - IRESA really can just arbitrarily allocate proportions of my monthly payment between the two - but the way in which they do so makes for the worst opacity I've ever encountered from a utility provider. I am not bad with figures, but IRESA statements can still confuse me. They could make matters a whole lot clearer by changing to issue a single statement covering both services.If they can't sort themselves out by this autumn (the end of my one-year-fix), I'll be changing supplier, but in my experience suppliers turn rudely greedy at the end of such deals and are never worth staying with - that has been the case with the last three suppliers I've used, covering the past five years. I won't name names because it's seems universal - suppliers assume that they can roll over customers onto a new tariff without the customers realising that they're not getting a decent deal any more. 'Oh yes, sir, your monthly payment will increase from £43 to £56, ho-hum.... that's just the way it is, honest.....' One look at a price comparison service and I discover that I can keep my monthly payment at or near its previous level by switching to a different provider and I know that my current supplier has been trying to pull a swift one to the tune of about 20%. It shows the value of vigilance because some customers will blithely accept the new tariff quoted by their existing supplier and all suppliers exploit this tendency.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My direct debit was increased by a large percentage even though I'm in credit at the end of winter. Emails unanswered and long wait if you try to phone. But then they're obviously cheap because they don't spend a lot on customer service.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I received an email this morning telling me that they would be taking a one off payment for £134.79 on the 3rd of April.I have opened a ticket with them but would appreciate any advice on whether i should block this payment which falls just after Easter.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My elderly neighbour has asked me to intervene with problems she has been experiencing with Iresa for over a year now. On three separate occasions I have tried to call their "customer helpline" and I use the term very loosely, one two of these attempts I was 138 and 135 in the queue on another attempt I was 52 and decided to hold for 35 minutes to speak to a human (again, using the term loosely) As a company, they have no concept of what customer service looks like and really need a great deal more than some harsh words. I've waited over a month for a reply to an email sent.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Smart meters only benefit the supplier so don’t go with suppliers who insist that smart meter be installed if you take their tariff. Most don’t work properly, most are unique to a particular supplier and the cost of them is increasing the cost to the consumer

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Knowing what I know now, I would never have signed up to them. You can literally wait forever for them to answer their phone lines and I have never yet had a reply to any emails, of which there have been many since I switched to them last year. Can only believe they offer a 'computer automated service' where all the processes are handled by computer and they have no human input whatsoever. Arrogant beyond belief!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Only 50th in the phone queue? You did well!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was overjoyed at seeing the news about investigation into Iresa. I have been tearing what's left of my hair out with frustration at trying to get through on the phone (average queue position 50+) and to get replies to my emails (around 12, none of which got any reply other than automated much less the "within 5 days" promised by the latter.Prices, good, service - appalling

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Strange. I've used Iresa for the past year and have had no issues at all. I tend to contact them via their contact portal on their web site and generally get a response within hours. Toast still pops out when it should, the boiler clicks in when it should - and they've saved me loads of money. None of the 'reduce your energy cost' offers from moneysavingexpert or uswitch or comparethemarket came close. Keep up the good work guys.

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