Small energy company Iresa has been banned by energy regulator Ofgem from taking on new customers until it resolves customer service problems.
It is also forbidden from increasing existing customers’ direct debits and asking for one-off payments for up to three months.
Iresa has been ordered by Ofgem to improve the service it provides to customers. If Iresa fails to improve within the three-month deadline, it risks losing its licence to supply gas and electricity.
Read on to find out what Iresa must do to improve, and what you should do if you’re an Iresa customer.
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How Iresa must improve customer service
Iresa must do the following to improve its customer service over the next three months, Ofgem has ordered:
- Extend its call centre hours
- Bring the average call-waiting time to below five minutes
- Respond to customers who request a call-back by the end of the next working day
- Respond to customer emails within five working days
- Clear the backlog of customer emails
- Record all expressions of dissatisfaction from customers
- Identify all vulnerable customers and offer to put them on a priority services register.
Ofgem will monitor Iresa’s action against these orders.
Could Iresa lose its gas and electricity licence?
Ofgem has given Iresa three months to make these improvements. If it fails, it will face further action.
Ultimately, Iresa could have its licence to supply gas and electricity revoked.
Ofgem says it has taken this action due to ‘substantial information’ which suggests that Iresa’s customer service issues ‘risk causing its customers immediate harm’.
We reported on problems faced by Iresa customers back in January – these included them facing unexpected direct debit increases and one-off payment requests of hundreds of pounds.
The orders from Ofgem are temporary. Separately, the regulator is still investigating whether Iresa broke rules about customer information and customer contact.
This includes treating customers fairly when they phone or when handling complaints, giving enough notice to customers in debt that payment is being taken, refunding customers promptly, and allowing them to switch supplier.
What should I do if I’m an Iresa customer?
For the next three months, Iresa is forbidden from increasing your direct debit or asking you for a one-off payment.
If you have complained to the company by phone or email, it must respond in the timescales set out by energy regulator Ofgem.
If you’re fed up, you can switch to another energy firm. To make your switch go as smoothly as possible, read our guide to switching energy supplier. If you’re renting, see switching energy firm as a tenant.
Which? managing director of home services, Alex Neill, said: ‘Iresa has form for appalling customer service; this is the second time in a year the regulator has stopped it from gaining new customers and has ordered improvements. The company now must ensure it changes for the long term, otherwise the regulator will need to go further to protect consumers.
‘Energy customers shouldn’t have to tolerate shoddy service, unexpected price-hikes, or failure to resolve complaints.
‘If you are unhappy with the service that you’re getting from your current energy provider, you should consider switching to another supplier.’
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