22 Aug 2023

Human interest Wellbeing North West Utility

Power network operator praises decision to consult on supplier customer services

Electricity North West's customer team with a customer

The North West’s power network operator has welcomed a consultation which will enhance the service provided to customers.

Energy regulator Ofgem launched its consumer standards statutory consultation last month.

The consultation, due to close this week, has been set out to further improve customer service for both businesses and households across Great Britain.

One of the proposals includes a 24/7 service to be provided by suppliers for faults on their meters and Electricity North West, who operate the North West’s power network, has welcomed the proposal.

Ofgem’s consultation follows Electricity North West’s previous proposals submitted for consideration to change the retail energy code rules.

Stephanie Trubshaw, Electricity North West’s customer service and connections director, said: “We’re really pleased Ofgem is carrying out a consultation which will enhance the service provided to customers.

“We aim to provide the best possible service to our customers, and we believe suppliers should do the same and operate 24/7, 365 days a year just as we do as a power network operator.

“Customers and particularly those in vulnerable circumstances need protecting when there’s a loss of power. Providing a 24/7 service will help do that and ensure power can be restored much quicker. This consultation is a win for customers and we look forward to seeing the outcome.”

The network operator has previously called for a 24/7 supplier service for meter failure and has also provided data in its submission which highlights how its contact centre has regularly received calls from customers who were unable to contact their supplier to report a meter fault, over a prolonged period with a resultant delay restoring the electricity supply to their property.

Electricity North West has taken steps to ensure it can provide support for customers by issuing prepayment top up cards and food vouchers, but in some instances, suppliers are often far better placed, and sometimes the only party able, to support their customers in some supply related situations such as a faulty meter.

“The consultation is something we have called for, for several years after seeing our own customer contact centre at times inundated with calls about meter issues,” added Stephanie.

“We’re already seeing the reliance on electricity increasing and that’s going to rise even further as we accelerate the journey towards net zero.

“Whilst we do our utmost to protect customers through innovative initiatives such as food vouchers, and pre-paid top up cards, sometimes only the supplier can assist and that has led to longer delays in our teams being able to restore power.

“Should the consultation be successful, the changes will only benefit customers, and this is something we well and truly support.”