Customers of failed suppliers hit by ‘aggressive’ debt collection practices

Citizens Advice has said customers are often left in limbo when they are waiting for credit refunds

Big Zero Report 2022

As many energy companies exit the market in recent months amid soaring energy prices, thousands of customers are left behind to deal with mounting pressures, including aggressive debt collection tactics.

That’s one of the findings from the recent report by Citizens Advice which suggests administrators of failed suppliers might mistreat billpayers as they do not follow the same rules that exist in the energy market for companies.

The charity has said many customers of collapsed energy firms are missing out on credit refunds and struggling to fix inaccurate bills.

The report which paints a dire picture of the current energy market estimates the bill for supplier failures, including the administration costs for Bulb, stands at £4.6bn, potentially adding up to £164 to customer bills. 

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “More than half a year since the energy market went into freefall, the bill for supplier failures is still mounting.

“On top of this, we’ve found that too often people are pushed from pillar to post when their supplier fails – adding to their stress and worry at an already difficult time.

“An overhaul is needed before winter piles more pressure on suppliers and customers.”

Commenting on the findings of the report, Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our top priority is protecting customers and as this report shows, significant progress has been made by Ofgem in addressing the issues raised by Citizens Advice in December and in making sure the energy market is fair for everyone, especially those on low incomes or vulnerable customers.

“The conditions in the market are genuinely ‘once in a generation’ and I am absolutely clear with suppliers that now, more than ever, we need to make sure customers are supported throughout the course of this year.

“We’re already taking robust enforcement action against companies who are failing customers through a series of rigorous market compliance reviews looking at issues from direct debits to customer service and bringing in new protections move the sector to a more financially resilient position and with fit and proper management.

“We know there is even further to go as we protect customers and work with government and the wider market to ensure we have a clean, affordable and secure home-grown energy system fit for the future, giving peace of mind to all consumers.”

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