Electric Ireland won’t cut off customers ‘as a result of departure of KBC and Ulster’

Electric Ireland won’t cut off customers ‘as a result of departure of KBC and Ulster’

Electric Ireland has facilitated the transfer of 4,000 of its customers that had accounts with KBC or Ulster Bank to other banks, while around 80,000 accounts need to have action taken.

The energy provider told an Oireachtas Committee that its energy and gas supply to its customers with KBC or Ulster Bank will not be impacted by the planned exits.

“We will be firmly focused on insuring that there are no energy supply related interruptions for our customers as a result of the departure of KBC and Ulster Bank,” said Electric Ireland executive director Marguerite Sayers.

The number of commercial and residential customers paying Electric Ireland through KBC or Ulster Bank is almost 65,000. 

However, some customers have more than one account so the total number of Electric Ireland direct debits paid through the exiting banks is closer to the 80,000 figure, estimated the company. 

The 4,000 that have been switched contacted Electric Ireland directly. The company is prohibited from contacting its customers that have direct debits paid through KBC or Ulster Bank due to GDPR reasons, explained Ms Sayers.

“Electric Ireland is committed to update all bank account details regardless of how the updates are submitted to us,” she said.

Electric Ireland said it will be contacting its customers that have accounts with the exiting banks in written form after they have been contacted by either KBC or Ulster Bank. KBC have yet to start issuing out letters, giving its customers deadlines to switch to another bank before it exits the market in the Republic.

Over the last few weeks, concerns have been raised in the Oireachtas joint finance committee on what will happen to those who have direct debit accounts with utility companies that are paid through KBC and Ulster Bank.

Although Electric Ireland appeared at the committee to give some clarity on the matter, the other firms that were contacted have yet to appear before the committee. These firms are Energia, Bord Gáis and Prepay Power.

There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the planned exit of KBC and Ulster Bank from the Republic. This is why the Financial Services Union has called on the Central Bank to instruct both banks to extend their exit timelines.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Union (FSU) has called on the regulator to instruct Ulster Bank and KBC to extend their timelines for withdrawal and to employ additional resources and staff to support customers changing accounts.

“Ulster Bank were aware when announcing the six-month deadline that the leaving banks were not ready to deal with the exits and the leaving banks knew despite their public utterances that they were not ready to cope with the additional workload,” said general secretary of the FSU John O’Connell.

Mr O’Connell said KBC plans to have all accounts in the Republic closed by August next year while Ulster Bank’s timeline envisages this happening by March 2023. 

During the committee, Mr O'Connell urged people not to close their accounts with KBC and Ulster Bank before they've made an appointment with another bank and opened an account with them.

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