Last week, energy minister Gregory Barker wrote to us committing to extend new powers in the Energy Bill to provide redress to consumers mistreated by energy company to local shops. This new power will allow retailers to recoup losses on a ‘pound for pound’ basis where they have suffered losses as a result of their energy company breaching its regulatory obligations.
So, if a supplier rolls your contract over onto a higher rate without following the correct processes for notifying you – they would be in breach of their obligations and you would have a case for claiming redress if Ofgem impose a fine on the supplier after an investigation.
Our most recent research shows that around a third of convenience store retailers have been overcharged by their energy companies, hit with backdated bills and had contracts automatically rolled over. All of these are potentially eligible for investigation by Ofgem under their proposed new licensing conditions, so local shops will be able to get money back for losses suffered.
This has been a frustrating lobbying effort for ACS to lead, not least because of the plethora of initiatives, voluntary standards and consultations launched by Ofgem, the government and the energy industry. While it’s easy to get confused by the process, our message to government and Ofgem has been simple: local shops should have the same rights as domestic customers when it comes to billing, contracts and transfers. This means a one year limit on backdated bills, an end to rollovers and single codes of practice for suppliers and brokers that are enforceable by the regulator.
The minister’s recognition that local shops should be given more protection is a step forward and welcome reward for all of you, including Convenience Store magazine, who have been part of the campaign for fairer dealing with energy companies.