Energy suppliers may start chasing some unpaid bills that were put on hold during the initial impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley said in an open letter to supply companies and others: “We recognise that suppliers cannot extend unlimited credit to customers – nor is this in customers’ interests overall – and we anticipate suppliers will begin to restart debt management activities that may have been paused during the immediate crisis.”
The letter, concerning regulatory expectations from July 1, also said that companies still need to take people’s circumstances into consideration – and aggressive debt collection will not be tolerated.
Suppliers will need to consider their approach to debt management as they continue to deal with people financially impacted by Covid-19 and should offer strong support to customers struggling to manage their energy costs, the letter said.
The letter continued: “We expect suppliers (and any third parties contracted by them) to ensure that any debt management processes are fair and give careful consideration to the customer’s circumstances and ability to pay – we will not tolerate sharp practice or aggressive debt collection and suppliers could face enforcement action where this is the case.”
The letter, published on Ofgem’s website, said the regulator expects that customers should be able to easily contact their supplier across a range of channels, for example by phone, email or other digital means, and that their preferred method of contact will be successful.
Customers should generally receive a swift response and timely resolution to
their queries, Ofgem said.