Ofgem recently concluded compliance engagement with three suppliers on their adherence with Standard Licence Conditions (SLC) 0 on Treating Domestic Customers Fairly and SLC 27.1 on Payment Methods. Ofgem acted on concerns that suppliers have not been providing complete and transparent information to consumers on the range of payment methods available and not treating customers fairly by providing equal access to all payment methods made available by a supplier. Offering a wide range of payment methods and making it easy for consumers to understand what their options are is an important element of customer service, ensuring energy consumers can pay in a way that best suits them. Failure to do so can result in detriment to the consumer through not being able to pay for energy in a way that works for them, potentially causing payment difficulties and accrual of debt, as well as drive avoidable contact with the supplier.
Following engagement, each supplier has updated the information they provide to their respective customers, enabling customers to determine payment methods that they can access. Where appropriate, payment methods that were previously only available to certain groups of consumers have been opened up to provide equal access to all, promoting more positive customer service experiences. Due to the steps taken, Ofgem has decided not to take formal compliance action against the suppliers at this time though may revisit this issue in the future if we suspect non-compliance.
Under Standard Licence Condition 0, amongst other things, suppliers must treat domestic customers fairly, ensuring that customers are provided with complete and transparent information. This includes information about the payment methods that are available to customers. Standard Licence Condition 27.1 requires suppliers with more than 50,000 customers to provide customers with a wide choice of payment methods for paying charges and those methods must include payment by cash and prepayment meter.