Iresa props up customer service table as ban extended
ENERGY supplier Iresa has been dealt another blow after the body that regulates utility companies extended a ban on the business that prevents it from taking on new customers.
Utility watchdog Ofgem first issued the ban in March after discovering that Iresa’s customer service levels were inadequate, giving the company three months to improve.
However, Ofgem has said that while Iresa has made some progress, it has not resolved all of its customer service failings. “Iresa has significantly reduced its call waiting times but has not made enough progress in reducing the backlog of customers’ emails,” Ofgem said.
“Iresa is also starting to show signs of improvement in how it handles complaints and how it manages its vulnerable customers, but this is not currently good enough nor has been sustained for a reasonable period of time. The confirmed provisional order will remain in place until Ofgem sees a significant improvement in Iresa’s customer service.”
The energy watchdog said that Iresa needed to extend its call centre hours, improve call waiting times and respond to customer emails promptly. It also demanded that the company had a more transparent complaints procedure, and a way to identify and deal with vulnerable customers.
Dermot Nolan, the chief executive of Ofgem, said: “Iresa continues to let its customers down by failing to provide a level of customer service its customers deserve.” If Iresa continues to offer poor levels of customer service, Ofgem could revoke its licence to operate.
The ruling came as the charity Citi- zens Advice, which originally referred Iresa to Ofgem, named the company the worst in the sector for customer service, with record numbers of complaints.
Iresa came bottom of Citizens Advice’s energy star rating system. The company scored just 0.35 stars out of a possible five for its customer service between January and March this year.
The supplier received the worstever complaints score recorded by Citizens Advice, receiving more than 9,000 complaints per 100,000 customers. This is five times higher than the next worst supplier, TOTO Energy, which received 1,800 complaints. One Iresa customer contacted Citizens Advice after receiving a request for a oneoff payment of £1,000. Another was unable to contact Iresa for more than three months to get a problem solved.
Iresa said that it was disappointed by Ofgem’s decision as it had made significant changes to improve its customer service, including increasing its customer service team and extending its call centre hours. “We will continue to work with Ofgem to give them the confidence to remove the order at the earliest opportunity,” it added.