Electric Ireland and Flogas 'not transparent' over costs for new customers

Electric Ireland and Flogas 'not transparent' over costs for new customers

The identification of vulnerable customers at sign-up was one of the issues raised by the CRU.

Electric Ireland and Flogas have been told they were “not transparent” with customers over how much their energy costs would be when they signed up.

A spot check by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) found that both companies had breached the requirement that the information they provided to customers is “complete, accurate, transparent, and not misleading”.

CRU conducted audits of 14 electricity and gas suppliers between June and September of this year, focusing on areas including payment plans for customers in arrears and the identification of vulnerable customers at sign-up.

The regulator said all of these topics are key areas of consumer protection “in particular in the current situation with increasing and highly volatile energy prices”.

Protecting consumer interests

“While the CRU has been making every effort to enhance customer protection policies, this audit ensures that energy suppliers comply with the policies and that consumer interests are protected,” it said.

In all there were three findings of non-compliance against two suppliers.

CRU said it also identified five areas with examples of good practice during its audit.

For both Electric Ireland and Flogas, CRU rapped the companies and ordered them to address its findings.

It said: “The price table contained in the customer documentation was not transparent regarding fixed energy costs and variable pass-through costs.

It was unclear how much the fixed rates were as well as the variable passthrough rates at sign-up."

Separately, it singled out Flogas for its payment plan confirmation letters which “did not contain sufficient details of a payment plan, eg the date of commencement, the due date for each instalment”.

CRU said that prior to its publication of the audit findings, Flogas had completed “appropriate remedial actions”.

It said it is liaising with Electric Ireland to “ensure remedial actions are implemented satisfactorily”.

Separately, the number of households changing their electricity and gas suppliers in search of a better deal is at record levels.

In September 2022, there were 48,550 electricity supplier switches, an increase of 59.6% on the previous month and of 54.7% compared to the same month last year.

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