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Make it easier for us to contact energy companies, CSE urges Ofgem

A woman in a modern office waiting on the telephone

Our response to Ofgem’s consumer standards consultation has two clear demands to make it easier for us and other advice agencies to help our most vulnerable clients

Energy companies need to buck their ideas up when it comes to customer service. In particular their public-facing teams need to make it easier for advice agencies like CSE to contact them. This is to make it easier for us to resolve issues with their more vulnerable customers.

This is the central message of our response to Ofgem’s consultation into consumer standards, published today (22 July 2023).

Our response

Read our response to Ofgem’s consultation into consumer standards.

Our core ask is that Ofgem require energy companies to adopt a permissive and consistent approach to giving advice agencies authority to act on behalf of clients.

Currently, CSE’s advisors spend an absurd amount of time on hold when attempting to speak to energy companies in order to resolve client problems. They also experience difficulty in establishing that they have the customer’s consent. And they find themselves stuck in interminable customer service loops. This time could be better spent helping even more clients.

(We wrote about this last year: Don’t keep me hanging on the telephone … )

Ian Preston is CSE’s Director of Household Energy Services who authored our response to the consulation. He said: “We want to see a smoother way to connect with energy companies. No more back-and-forth, just a straight-up consistent way to get things done. Think of the time and frustration we’ll save for our advisors, our clients, and, indeed, for the energy suppliers themselves.”

We also urge Ofgem to require energy companies to have a clear place on customer records for advisors’ names to be added.

This would prevent advisors from having to repeatedly call up to be added to vulnerable customers’ accounts. It would also go some way to preventing the apalling situation where advisors are pursued by bailiffs because their details were recorded in the wrong place on the customer’s account!

Increased focus on consumer standards is welcomed

Ian Preston added: “We welcome Ofgem’s inclusive approach to this consultation. They are seeking the views of all parts of the retail market: customers, advocates, network operators and suppliers. We are also encouraged to see an increased focus driving improvements to consumer standards and a recognition of the role that consumer representatives like CSE play in improving outcomes for these customers.”

Read our response to Ofgem’s consultation into consumer standards.

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