British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE are being targeted by a campaign by Energy UK (trade association for the energy industry) in a bid to get the frozen cash back to those from whom it has been withheld.
Regulating body Ofgem has revealed that the so-called ëBig Sixí energy providers are holding in excess of £202 million, spread across 3.5 million closed household accounts, and have called on customers to reclaim it. It also revealed that a further £204 million has been held from 300,000 business accounts.
The money is being held in accounts that have been closed for various different reasons, be it a change of address, a change of provider, or the death of an account holder, to name a few. It what has been described as a ìshockingî lack of action, the providers in question have made no steps as of yet to get the money back to the customers.
Ofgemís made these findings back in February 2014 ñ it has taken almost a year to liaise with Energy UK and formulate an effective strategy to rectify the issue. The focus at the moment is on informing customers as explicitly as possible about how exactly they can go about first finding out what they are owed, and then actually reclaiming it.
The first step was setting up a dedicated website (www.myenergycredit.com) detailing the refund procedures for the relevant providers. They have since added a telephone helpline and a freepost address (both of which will be listed at the end of this article) to their arsenal so that those without internet access do not miss out on their refunds.
The ability to reclaim funds has always been there, but this campaign is fundamentally one of raising awareness. The idea is to inform customers of the fact that they may well be owed money that they can claim back, and also to implore energy companies to take active measures to return the money, rather than simply holding on to it. Indeed the energy companiesí excuses have generally been based around the logistical difficulty of tracking someone down who has changed address or provider or both; but this is flimsy at best, you can be sure that under the same circumstances, if the burden of debt was the other way round, the energy companies would have no trouble tracking you down!
Energy UK has estimated that the customers affected are owed approximately £50 each, and are urging anyone who thinks they may be owed anything to follow the steps set out to enquire and reclaim now.
This move comes as part of a general drive to crack down on questionable practises and increase competition in the energy sector. The Big Six providers make up what is essentially an oligopoly, supplying 98% of UK homes between them, raising prices steadily and regularly.
Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has been consistently outspoken against the Big Six and their dominance of the energy market. He has been vocal in support of competitors such as Ovo, despite administrative mistakes the company admitted to earlier this year that resulted in thousands of customers being billed incorrectly. This mistake was later rectified.
Ofgem launched a campaign earlier this year which involved requiring energy companies to be more transparent regarding how electricity is traded between generator business, and the side of their company that actually supplies it to customers. This came amid accusations of profiteering and generally surreptitious practises made against the Big
Six energy providers.
To see if youíre owed money by your energy provider, visit the website above, or call My Energy Credit on 0370 737 7770. Alternatively, write to their freepost address: Freepost RTHL-ZYBU-KBCC, My Energy Credit, 47 Aylesbury Road,
Thame, 0X9 3PG.
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