Codes of Practice

Your Payment Options

In order to keep things as simple and transparent as possible, we only offer one tariff per payment type, with small regional variances. There are three ways to pay with us: up front with a prepayment meter, monthly with a direct debit or quarterly through a bill. An updated list of tariffs is always available on our website www.utilita.co.uk or can be posted out to any customer on request. We will always provide a clear list of these prices, along with the terms and conditions, to a customer on signing up with us.

1.2 Prepayment Meters

Utilita is the leading provider of prepayment Gas and Electricity in the UK and we think that it is a great way to gain control over your spending and monitor your carbon emissions. We install smart meters free of charge for all prepayment customers; fully equipped with £10 ‘Emergency’ and ‘Friendly credit’ to keep customers going through the evenings, weekends and bank holidays, with no daily standing charges. Customers do have to be aware of topping-up their meters on a regular basis, however the units are fitted with an alert which sounds when your credit is running low.

There are numerous ways to top-up with our smart prepayment meters:

At any PayPoint outlet
Online
By text
Over the phone
By direct debit - you can automatically top-up your meters by the same amount each month. If you use more than this monthly amount, you will have to top-up using one of the above options on pay-as-you-go.

We will always provide full details of each payment type in the User Guide when your meters are installed.

1.3 Quarterly Payments

Customers choosing to pay on a quarterly basis will be sent a bill every 3 months. The more frequently we receive a meter reading from you, the more accurate this will be. We will try to read your meter at least twice a year, but you can also submit your own reads. You can pay your bill by cheque, postal order, credit or debit card.

1.4 Direct Debit Payment Plan

Setting up a direct debit can be a very convenient way to buy your gas and electricity. It is wise to consider how much you realistically spend per month before setting up your payment plan. If you go over the amount that you have set, you could face an unexpected bill. Your spending will also fluctuate according to the season, so you will be likely to use more gas and electricity between October and March when the temperature drops and the days become shorter. When calculating your monthly direct debit therefore, we will consider your annual energy usage. This amount can be adjusted by contacting our Customer Services Team and we will always comply with the Direct Debit guarantee.

The Direct Debit Guarantee

All banks and building societies that take part in the Direct Debit Scheme offer this Guarantee. The efficiency and security of the Scheme is monitored and protected by your own bank or building society:

  • If the amount to be paid or the payment dates change, we will notify you normally 10 working days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed.
  • If an error is made by us or your bank or building society, you are guaranteed a full and immediate refund from your branch of the amount paid.
  • You can cancel a Direct Debit at any time by writing to your bank or building society. Please also contact us so that we can arrange alternative payments from you.

Bills and Statements

If you have chosen to pay quarterly, you will receive a bill every 3 months which will break down your energy usage and specify whether this is based on actual or estimated reads. Direct Debit customers will also receive a quarterly statement to show what they have paid and whether they have covered the cost of the energy they have used. This allows you to adjust your direct debit amount if necessary.

Prepayment customers pay for all their energy up front, eliminating the need for a monthly or quarterly bill. However, we will send you an annual statement once you have been with us for over year. This will allow you to monitor how much you have used in kilowatt hours and what you have spent.

Disputed Bills & Meter Readings

If you disagree with an estimated bill, you are always entitled to submit your own meter readings and we will adjust your bill accordingly. We will accept your first reading providing that it is reasonable, but reserve the right to send our own representative to validate the information provided. If you have a disability which prevents you from reading your meters, please let us know. Full details on the services that we offer for priority needs customers are available in our Code of Practice, Priority Needs.

If you think that your bills are being affected by a faulty meter, then we may ask you to keep a record of your energy usage for a few days as a preliminary investigation. If you ask us to send an engineer out and there is nothing wrong with your meter(s), we may charge you for the visit and this debt will be added to your bill or prepayment meter.

Overdue Account

If you fall behind with payments, then we will send you a letter to let you know how much is owed. You will have a variety of ways to pay these debt and we want to help you to make this payment in the most manageable way possible. As long as you agree a reasonable payment plan with us and stick to it, you will not be liable for any more any further action such as the use of debt recovery agents or an enforced prepayment meter. Under certain circumstances, we may ask a customer to switch to prepayment in order to recover a debt.

Debt Recovery Agents

If we have been unable to obtain any sort of payment, we may resort to using debt recovery agents. We are reluctant to do this and will help you avoid this eventuality as best we can, so please contact us if you fall into debt and feel that you cannot cope. There are strict rules governing debt recovery agents and you can learn all about your consumer rights by calling the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or checking their website. For more information on who to let into your home, see our Code of Practice, Knocking on your Door.

Moving home

You need to ensure that you take final meter readings when you move home, and first ones in your next property. This will ensure that you only ever pay for your own electricity and gas and that any final bill or statement that we send you is accurate.

Help and Advice

Changing your Payment Plan

If you think that you may find another payment method easier to manage, for instance prepayment rather than direct debit, then contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you. There are some circumstances where you may be unable to change, for instance if you are paying off a debt through a prepayment meter.

Fuel Direct

If you receive Income Support, owe us money that you cannot afford to pay, and a prepayment meter is not suitable for you, you can apply to join the Fuel Direct Scheme. The scheme means that the Department for Work and Pensions will automatically take money from your income support to pay for the energy you are using whilst also paying off your debt. The amount deducted is set by the Department for Work and Pensions and will be paid directly to Utilita. It may be possible to continue paying by Fuel Direct even once your debt is cleared, however this will require agreement from the Department for Work and Pensions. For more information on this, you will need to contact your local benefits office.

Paying your Landlord

If you live in rented accommodation, you should be aware that your landlord is not allowed to make a profit from reselling fuel. Utilita cannot become involved in any dispute between a landlord and tenant, but we can offer advice on the maximum charges specified by Ofgem, the gas and electricity regulator.

Energy Efficiency

One way to manage your spending is improve the efficiency of your home. All of our Customer Services Advisors are trained to offer you advice on saving energy and will send you out an energy efficiency pack on request. Smart metering also helps you to monitor and control your usage and carbon emissions in order to promote a greener lifestyle. For more information, please see our Code of Practice, Energy Efficiency.

Warm Front

If you are in receipt of disability living allowance, income support or pension credit and live in a poorly heated or insulated home then you may be eligible for a government grant. A surveyor will visit your home and give it a SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating. If this is less than 55, you can be awarded up to £3,500 in heating and insulation improvements. Our Customer Services Team can advise you on the best way to apply for the scheme.

Impartial Advice

We’ll do everything we can to help you, but if you would like any independent advice then you may want to try the Citizens Advice Consumer Service. This provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040 506.

Energy Saving Trust
Call - 08005 120 12
Website - www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

National Debtline
Call - 08008 084 000
Website - www.nationaldebtline.co.uk

Warm Front
Call - 03301 231 234
Textphone - 08000 720 156
Website - www.warmfront.co.uk

If you would like a copy of this, or any other code of practice in Braille or audio form, please get in touch. Copies of this document can be posted to any of our customers free of charge.

The most important thing to remember is your safety. There are a number of precautions that you can take in order to ensure that you are not exposed to any danger from your gas or electricity supply.

1. Using Gas Safely

If you smell gas, follow this advice from the National Gas Emergency Service:

  • Do not smoke
  • Do not use naked flames
  • Do not use doorbells, mobile phones or turn any other electrical switches on or off
  • Turn off the gas mains supply at the meter
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate the house

National Gas Emergency Service number - 0800 111 999

(Do not phone from a mobile phone as this may ignite a spark)

If your meter is NOT in a basement, cellar or confined area, turn off the gas supply at the emergency control valve handle. The valve can be found near to the meter. Turn the handle through 90 degrees so that it is at a right angle to the pipe.

Now follow the basic safety advice below.

If the meter is in a basement, cellar or confined area do not enter the area to turn off the supply; follow the steps below.

Basic Safety Advice

  • Turn off all gas appliances, if safe to do so
  • Extinguish all naked flames, do not smoke, use matches or any naked flames
  • Do not operate anything electrical/battery operated i.e. mobile phones, light switches or radios
  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the property
  • Leave the property - Warn others i.e. multi-occupancy properties / neighbours
  • Leave the door open if there is a electric operated door bell entry system

2. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous gas. It is colourless and has no taste or smell. If your gas appliance is faulty, or there is not enough ventilation in the room, carbon monoxide may be produced.

To keep your household safe you can:

  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm (it should be marked to EN 50291 and also have the British Standards' Kitemark or another European approval organisation's mark on it.)
  • Service your appliances
  • Don’t block ventilation
  • Know the signs

Danger Signs:

Orange or yellow gas flames. Gas flames should be blue

Sooty stains or discolouration on or by the appliance

You may develop some of the following symptoms: headaches, drowsiness, sickness, giddiness or stomach pains

Many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide are similar to those of flu, food poisoning, viral infections, or simple tiredness. Other warning signs that suggest carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Symptoms only occur when you are at home
  • Symptoms disappear or get better when you leave the home and come back when you return
  • Other people in your household (including your pets) are experiencing similar symptoms
  • Symptoms tend to be seasonal – e.g. headaches during the winter when the central heating is used more often
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical advice from your GP, call NHS Direct on 111 - or if it is urgent, call 999 for an ambulance

3. Gas Safety Checks

If all the adults in your home are disabled, chronically sick or of pensionable age, you are entitled to a free safety check of your gas appliances every year. If you are in private rented accommodation, it is your landlord’s responsibility to offer you a free gas safety check. Even if you have to fund it yourself, these checks are advisable.

If an appliance is found to be dangerous, it will be condemned and cannot be used until it has been repaired or replaced. If this happens you can call the Gas Safe Register enquiry number on 0800 408 550 or visit their website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk for advice.

4. Using Electricity Safely

Electricity is safe if you use it properly, but carelessness can lead to accidents. When using electricity, make sure you take the following precautions:

  • Check all flexes and fittings regularly. Short flexes are best, and they should never be placed over the top of work surfaces
  • Ensure that all plugs are correctly wired. New electrical appliances will always have a fitted plug that you cannot rewire. If the plug is damaged you should cut it off and throw it away. A new plug should be fitted following the correct procedure
  • Try to use only one plug per socket. If this is not possible, use a reliable adaptor
  • Make sure the fuse is the right size by checking the label
  • Wiring should be checked every 5 years by a member of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Insulation (NICEIC). Approved contractors are listed in your local yellow pages
  • Never hang anything on a fan, convector or radiant heater or block air grilles
  • Never handle plugs, switches or electrical appliances with wet hands
  • Never fit timeswitches to electric fires or heaters

5. Contact Us

Our Customer Services Team are trained to deal with all of your enquiries. To speak to an advisor, call us on 03452 072 000. Alternatively you can email contact us here.

Independent Advice

We’ll do everything we can to help you, but if you would like any independent advice then you may want to try:

Citizens Advice Consumer Service Call - 03454 040 506 Website - www.adviceguide.org.uk

National Grid (for gas maintenance and emergencies) Call - 0800 111 999 Website - www.nationalgrid.com

If you would like a copy of this, or any other code of practice in Braille or audio form, please get in touch. Copies of this document can be posted to any of our customers free of charge.

The purpose of our visits

There are several reasons why a Utilita representative may call at your door:

  • An engineer may need to come and fix or fit your meters
  • On occasion, we may need to send someone to read your meters
  • Under extreme circumstances, a debt recovery agent may have to be sent to a property for debt purposes
  • A sales representative might knock on your door to offer you information about our services

Planned and unplanned visits

Where we can make a prior arrangement and time for a visit we will. Our appointments are divided into two time slots, ‘am’ and ‘pm’:

Morning: 8am-1pm
Afternoon: 12pm-5pm

We ask for someone over the age of 18 to remain in the property for the duration of the arranged time slot. If we miss you, we push a card through your door to let you know that we’ve called. We can’t guarantee that we can get back to you on the same day, but if you call Customer Services, we will reschedule the appointment as quickly as possible.

Identity Cards

Each of our representatives will wear a valid photo ID badge, but not necessarily with the Utilita logo on it. This is because in order to deliver the best service possible, we sometimes outsource engineering work or meter readings to external Meter Operating Companies. These representatives will always be trained to meet our high standards of practice, but do not be alarmed if they are not wearing Utilita uniform as they are still regulated by us. All comments and complaints should still be directed to our Customer Services Team and will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

You should always check the identity and business of any person before letting them into your home. All visiting representatives have an identity card that they will show you without being asked. They will also confirm the exact reason they are calling.

You should check the card thoroughly; it should contain the following information:

  • Our name - Utilita or the name of the Network Operating Company, Meter Operating Company
  • The name of the representative
  • A colour photograph of the representative
  • An expiry date (all cards are handed back on expiry or when a representative leaves the company)
  • A telephone number that you can call to check their identity
  • Their Agent ID Reference

Password Schemes

If you have concerns about security, we offer a password scheme. This password can be up to 25 characters long. It is chosen by you and updated in our system. We will only ever give your password to our Utilita Representatives and Meter Reading, Network Operating Company Representatives who need to know it, and you can change it as often as you like.

Engineers

The person who lets the engineer in must be over 18. Whether they are coming to fix your meters, or fit your property with new smart meters, their identity can be verified by any member of our Customer Care Team. If in doubt, call us on 03303 337 442.

Utilita supplies your electricity and/or gas but does not own the pipes and wires used to transport these around the country. These are provided by national or local grid and pipeline companies (‘Network Operator Companies’ NOC’s). These Network Operator Companies carry out the same duties for Utilita as any other national utility supplier under the terms of their licences.

Occasionally a Network Operator Company might need to work on the pipes and wires that connect to your home, we will always try to give you advance warning of this, but in case of an emergency they may let you know directly. These Network Operating Engineers will rarely need to come into your property, as it is up to us as your supplier to maintain your meter.

Meter Readers

Once you are installed with smart meters, we can read them remotely. In the lead up to this, we may have to send someone to read your meters manually. Like many suppliers, we sometimes use an external Meter Operating Company to ensure that all of our customers are billed accurately. You are by no means obliged to let anybody into your house and in most situations we can supply you with a meter reading card for you to fill in yourself. Details on how to read your meter are available here.

Debt Recovery Agents

If we have been unable to obtain any sort of payment, we may resort to using debt recovery agents. We are reluctant to do this and will help you avoid this eventuality as best we can, so please contact us if you fall into debt and feel that you cannot cope. There are strict rules governing debt recovery agents and you can learn all about your consumer rights by calling the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or checking their website. Their contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

Sales Agents

For an independent company like Utilita, sales agents are a valuable way of spreading information about our services to the general public. All of our sales agents are subject to a Criminal Records Check and undergo product training. They work from 9am-8pm from Monday to Thursday and 9am-6pm on Fridays, complying with the code of conduct for sales. They will only ever sell at booked events or door-to-door and will never approach you in the street.

Our sales agents will ALWAYS be able to present you with a valid ID badge. This includes:

  • A recent photograph of the Agent
  • The Utilita logo
  • A contact number for Utilita
  • An expiry date

Sales Agents must be able to present a valid Utilita ID badge at all times.

Many of our agents also choose to wear a Utilita uniform, which consists of a jacket or polo shirt with our logo on it.

Verification Calls

To ensure each of our customers is completely happy to switch to us, we never process a contract without validating it over the phone. This call is scripted to cover the main points, but our Sales Advisors are trained to answer any questions that may arise at this point.

Vulnerable Customers

We will always check that the person signing up is responsible for the household bills and is over 18. Vulnerable customers receive an additional “comfort call” from our call centre to check that they are completely happy to proceed with their application and fully understand our terms and conditions. We will wait and speak to their carer or next of kin if this is deemed necessary. In sheltered accommodation, agents must receive the warden’s permission to approach customers.

Impartial Advice

We’ll do everything we can to help you, but if you would like any independent advice then you may want to try the Citizens Advice consumer service. This provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040 506.

National Debtline

Call - 08088 084 000
Website - www.nationaldebtline.co.uk

Making a Complaint

If you have a Complaint or any feedback specifically about a sales agent, it’s best to contact the Sales Team:

Call - 03452 068 777
Email - sales@utilita.co.uk

All other complaints can be directed to our Customer Services Team:

Call - 03452 072 000
Email - Get in touch

All members of staff are trained to deal with your complaint, so please call either number above. You can, at any point in this proceeding, ask to speak to a Manager. Should we fail to reach a satisfactory solution within 8 weeks, then you are within your rights to seek impartial advice from the Energy Ombudsman. This is an independent body which helps to resolve complaints for customers; it can ask us to apologise, take some practical action or offer a financial reward to a customer.

Call - 0330 440 1624
Website - www.ombudsman-services.org

If you would like a copy of this, or any other code of practice in Braille or audio form, please get in touch. Copies of this document can be posted to any of our customers free of charge.

Monitoring your energy usage

This Code offers a number of simple and practical measures that can have an immediate effect on reducing the amount of energy you use, whilst helping the environment benefit from less pollution.

1. Changing your habits at home

Every one of us can save energy by making small lifestyle changes.

Save electricity

Most of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water. Turn your washing machine down to 30˚C.

Avoid using your tumble dryer if you can, but if you do need to use it, make sure that the clothes are well spun and not dripping wet.

Switch electronics (such as televisions and games consoles) off at the plug instead of leaving them on standby.

In most homes lighting accounts for 10 – 15% of the electricity bill. Swap your inefficient traditional light bulbs for energy efficient bulbs instead. These will reduce your bills because they only use a fraction of the energy needed to operate a traditional bulb. These bulbs cost less to run, but also last longer than normal bulbs, meaning you don’t have to change them as often.

Defrost your fridge regularly to keep it running efficiently and cheaply. If it shows a tendency to frost up quickly then the door seal may be faulty. If you must put your fridge next to your cooker or boiler, leave as big a gap as possible between them.

If you’re making a cup of tea or coffee, don’t fill the kettle to the brim. Just put enough for what you need and make sure that you cover the element.

Save gas

Turn your thermostat down: Reducing your room temperature by 1°C can cut heating bills by up to 10% and typically saves around £60 per year.

Keep lids on pots and pans.

Draw your curtains at night to prevent heat from escaping through the windows.

2. Smart metering

Once you have had a smart meter installed, it will be even easier for you to keep track of your energy usage and carbon emissions. Our smart metering system includes a handheld device called a In-Home Display, which can track how much carbon you have produced.

Prepayment Customers can use this to gain absolute control over their spending, as they can see how their usage affects their credit levels in real time. All customers will benefit financially from greater energy efficiency.

3. Energy saving packs

If you feel that you are spending too much on your electricity and gas, one of the first measures that we take is to send you an energy saving pack. This contains:

  • A meter reading record sheet
  • Reasons to save Energy
  • Details on the running costs of different appliances
  • Energy Saving Tips

If you could benefit from one of these packs, you can request one free of charge at any time by contacting our Customer Services Team.

4. Renewable energy and infrastructure

If you are committed to using energy more efficiently, there are a number of changes that you can make to your house, including:

  • Loft insulation
  • Cavity Wall insulation
  • Double Glazing
  • Draught proofing

The Green Deal

These changes can be expensive, but you can spread the cost with a “pay-as-you-save” programme such as the Green Deal. This is an initiative which allows you to pay for new energy efficiency measures through your electricity bill. The cost of this will never exceed the saving that you make through these green measures.

Warm Front

If you are in receipt of income support or disability living allowance, you may also be eligible for a grant of up to £3,500 towards energy efficiency improvements through the Warm Front Scheme. This funding is designated to people who have poorly insulated or unheated homes. For advice on independent schemes that may be able to help you, contact our Customer Services team.

Solar panels

If your home is suitably placed, solar panels can be a great way to reduce your electricity bills and even to make a bit of money from the energy you generate and by putting power you don’t use back onto the national grid when you sign up to the government’s Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme. We think that it’s absolutely brilliant to use renewable energy and will support any customer who chooses to do this by making sure you have the latest smart metering equipment free of charge. We can even register your renewable generation system onto the scheme and administer the Feed in Tariff for you.

5. Contact us

Our Customer Services Team are trained to deal with all of your enquiries, including energy efficiency. To speak to an advisor, call us on 03452 072 000. Alternatively you can email here.

Independent advice

We’ll do everything we can to help you, but if you would like any independent advice then you may want to try:

Citizens Advice Consumer Service
Call - 03454 040 506
Website - www.adviceguide.org.uk

Energy Saving Trust
Call - 0800 512 012
Website - www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

National Grid (for gas maintenance and emergencies)
Call - 0800 111 999
Website - www.nationalgrid.com

Warm Front
Call - 03301 231 234
Textphone - 08000 720 156
Website - www.warmfront.co.uk

If you would like a copy of this, or any other code of practice in Braille or audio form, please get in touch. Copies of this document can be posted to any of our customers free of charge.

If you want to make a complaint

We are committed to providing you with our best customer service. Our service provides quick and effective advice for all enquiries. We know sometimes things go wrong and we would like to hear from you so we are able to resolve the matter as soon as possible. The quickest way to resolve any issue is to call one of our Customer Service Advisors. They aim to resolve your query whilst on the phone, however, if for some reason they are unable to do this they will take your contact details and call you back with a resolution. If your enquiry needs escalating to a manager they will be able to pass your details on to them and a call back with the manager will be arranged.

Step 1 - Contact us

Call our Customer Care Team on 03303 337 442 and they will do their utmost to resolve any query you may have. Alternatively:

Email - Contact us here

Write to: Utilita Energy,
Utilita House,
Mooorside Road,
Winchester,
SO23 7RX

Step 2 – Resolving your complaint

Our aim is to resolve all your queries on your first call, our Customer Care Advisors are all trained to identify and deal with complaints. However, if the Customer Care Advisor is unable to resolve your query, they will escalate it to a specialist team or ask a manager to help.

If we cannot solve the problem there and then and we have not done so within 24 hours, or if the matter is not resolved and requires further investigation, we will call or write to you to let you know what is happening.

If you write to tell us about your complaint by letter or e-mail we will get back to you within 5 working days of us receiving it.

If we have not been able to resolve your complaint immediately we will tell you within 5 working days and explain the next steps we plan to take. You should expect to receive a full and detailed response within 10 working days of our first letter or e-mail.

If you tell us that you are still not satisfied with the outcome, we will pass your complaint to the Customer Care Manager. You should expect to receive our final view by letter within 5 working days of the Customer Care Manager receiving your complaint.

Step 3 - If your complaint has still not been resolved

If you are still unhappy about the result or how we have handled your complaint there are various independent organisations that can help.

1) You can refer the matter to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.

Call - 03454 040 506
Website - www.adviceguide.org.uk
Address - Citizens Advice consumer service PO Box 833 Moulton Park Northampton NN3 0AN

2) If a complaint is unresolved by us as your supplier after eight weeks, you have the option to contact the Energy Ombudsman, who helps to resolve complaints from consumers about energy (gas and electricity) companies. We will provide you with what is known as a 'deadlock' letter to help you do this. The Energy Ombudsman is approved by Ofgem, the UK gas and electricity regulator under the Consumers Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.

Call - 03304 401 624
Fax - 03304 401 625
Textphone - 03304 401 600
Email - enquiries@os-energy.org
Website - www.os-energy.org

Please click on the link below for a downloadable copy of our Complaints Handling Procedure. Alternatively you can ask us to post a copy to you, just contact us on 03452 072 000.

Complaints Handling Procedure

There are Complaints Handing Regulations in place for the energy industry. If you would like a copy of the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Complaint Handling Standards) Regulations 2008 SI.2008 No.1898, please visit legislation.gov.uk. To get a paper copy, just call the Stationery Office on 08706 005 522. We carefully record and monitor all the complaints we receive, we publish these results on our website here. We also report our complaints performance to Citizens Advice and Ofgem with the other suppliers.

Download our Complaints Handling Report 2014

As your supplier, we want to always offer you the highest standards of service possible. In order to do this we aim to meet the following standards of performance to make your experience with us as your supplier, the best possible.

What is SMICoP

The Smart Meter Installation Code of Practice (SMICoP) specifies the minimum standards for Code Members to follow in relation to the Customer facing aspects of the installation of Smart Metering Systems. This includes the engineer who attends and the actual experience received on installation.

The main objectives of SMICoP are to make sure that the customer receives a high standard of service throughout the installation process, and knows how to use, and benefit from, the smart metering equipment to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

As a code member we have guidelines to follow to make sure customer satisfaction and quality are met. These are then measured through online and telephone interviews to make sure we as a company are meeting the guidelines specified.

For more information visit the SMICoP website

As your supplier, we want to always offer you the highest standards of service possible. In order to do this we aim to meet the following standards of performance to make your experience with us as your supplier, the best possible.

Making and keeping appointments

If you request an appointment or we need to visit your home, we will offer you an appointment within a reasonable timeframe and a maximum four hour time slot, during working hours, or if acceptable to you, a morning appointment up until 1pm or afternoon appointment after 12pm.

We will not rearrange an appointment less than 1 working day before the date of the appointment, without obtaining agreement from you to rearrange. We must also keep a written record of your agreement to rearrange.

If we fail to meet these standards we will pay you £30.

Faulty meters

Faulty Credit Meters

If you believe that your credit meter is not working correctly, and you report it to us, we will take the following steps within 5 working days:

1. Complete an initial assessment of whether the meter is functioning correctly or not.
2. Take appropriate action.
3. Offer to confirm in writing the outcome of the assessment and the actions that will be taken

Faulty prepayment meters

If a prepayment smart meter develops a fault, it could result in loss of supply. If this occurs and we cannot resolve the problem for you over the phone, we guarantee to visit and put the problem right.

If the meter fault is reported between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday (working days), we will attend within 3 hours. If the meter fault is reported at the weekend or on a bank holiday between 9am and 5pm, we will attend within 4 hours. These are maximum time frames only; we strive to attend sooner than this where possible.

If you let us know about a meter fault outside these times, and we can't attend the same day, then we will attend before 11am the following working day, or 12pm on weekends and bank holidays.

If we fail to meet these standards we will pay you £30.

Reconnection

Where we have disconnected the gas or electricity supply to your property, due to unpaid gas or electricity charges, we can reconnect the relevant supply once these have been paid or a repayment plan has been agreed.

We will then reconnect your gas and/or electricity supply to the property within 24 hours. If the relevant payments are made or the repayment plan is arranged outside of working hours, the 24 hour period will begin at the start of the next period of working hours.

If we fail to meet this standard we will pay you £30.

Distributed Payments

We may be asked by electricity distribution companies or gas transporters to pay compensation to you in some circumstances where you have lost supply.

The network company will let us know who is due compensation and how much. If you are identified as a customer who is due a payment we will let you know of this and make payment to you within 10 working days of us receiving the payment.

If we fail to meet this standard we will pay you £30.

Suppliers Payment Obligations

If we fail to meet any individual Standards of Performance, set out here, we must for each failure, make a payment of £30 to you the customer, within 10 working days. If we fail to make the payment we must for each payment, pay you a further £30 within 10 working days.

This also applies to failure to make the above ‘Distributed Payments’.

How we’re performing

The below figures show our results on Guaranteed Standards of Performance for each quarter. These include the totals for all of our Engineer appointments for both Gas and Electricity as well as a combined total.

A ‘breach’ is any appointment where we have failed to meet the standards set to make your customer experience with us the best possible.

    Cases Breaches Net breaches as a proportion of cases
All Q2 2016 86,302 1,777 2.06%
  Q3 2016 96,417 2,699 2.80%
  Q4 2016 93,874 4,020 4.28%
  Q1 2017 108,754 5,282 4.86%
Gas Q2 2016 39,793 173 0.43%
  Q3 2016 44,101 161 0.37%
  Q4 2016 42,689 340 0.80%
  Q1 2017 48,877 490 1.00%
Elec Q2 2016 46,509 1,604 3.45%
  Q3 2016 52,316 2,538 4.85%
  Q4 2016 51,185 3,680 7.19%
  Q1 2017 59,877 4,792 8.00%

Fuel Mix Disclosure

Based on the Residual Fuel Mix Table for Tax Year 2015/16

Fuel Type

Utilita Fuel Mix

UK Average Fuel Mix*

Coal 19% 17%
Natural Gas 33% 32%
Nuclear 13% 24%
Renewables 28% 24%
Other 7% 3%

*Ofgem regulations state values must be rounded to the nearest whole percent if >1% so values may not add up to 100% as a consequence

Environmental impact

Grams of Carbon Dioxide Emitted per kWh of Electricity:

332.4 g/kWh

Radioactive Waste Produced per kWh of Electricity:

0.00196 g/kWh

Back-billing: A guide for domestic energy consumers

What is ‘back-billing’?

A back-bill is a ‘catch-up’ bill sent to you by your gas or electricity supplier when you haven’t been correctly charged for your energy use (for periods exceeding 12 months or more). Back-bills can be for any amount but there is a principle in place defining when and for how far back your supplier can charge you.

Back-billing background

Ofgem directed all domestic energy suppliers to stop back-billing customers for energy used more than 12 months ago, if the supplier was at fault for not having sent a bill to the customer’.*

* Following a super-complaint made by Consumer Focus’s predecessor body, energywatch.

This requirement has been in place since 2007 and, with encouragement from Ofgem and Consumer Focus, suppliers have worked to improve their procedures to ensure that consumers are treated in a fair and reasonable manner. Some energy suppliers have developed their own policies to reflect this requirement. Others that are members of the energy supplier trade body, Energy UK, have developed a joint voluntary code of practice (the Energy UK Code of Practice for Accurate Bills) to ensure that their domestic customers do not suffer financially as a result of billing errors where the supplier is at fault.

Although we are not a signatory of the back-billing code, we do follow the principle.

When does the back-billing principle apply?

Each case is looked at on its own merits; however, the 12 month limit for back-bills may apply in these examples when your supplier has:

  • Failed to bill you at all and you have requested bills from them;
  • Billed you using estimated meter readings and instead of valid readings provided by you or a meter reader;
  • Billed you incorrectly by mixing up meter readings, and failed to act upon information available to put this right;
  • Failed to do anything about a query or fault you have raised regarding your account or meter and subsequently allowed a large debt to build up on your account;
  • Failed to reassess a payment arrangement (eg. Direct Debit) within 15 months, or failed to reassess based on a reasonable estimate.

Back-billing principle

If your supplier is at fault, it will not seek additional payment for unbilled energy used more than 12 months prior to the error being detected and a corrected bill being issued.

The back-billing principle may not apply if you:

  • Have been using the gas or electricity supply but have made no attempt to contact the supplier to arrange payment. This includes moving into a property and making no attempt to let a supplier know you are the new tenant or homeowner;
  • Have wilfully avoided payment;
  • Have not co-operated with attempts to obtain meter readings or resolve queries requested by the supplier. This includes failing to allow access to the property or failing to respond to requests for meter details or meter readings.

If you are not sure if back-billing would apply in your situation

Energy UK has developed a more detailed list of example scenarios where the back-billing principle may apply as part of its Code of Practice for Accurate Bills. The scenarios are available here: www.energy-uk.org.uk/backbilling.html The Code is regularly reviewed and updates are made to incorporate new scenarios to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.

Which suppliers are members of the Energy UK Code?

Members of the Code include: British Gas (including Scottish Gas), EDF Energy, E.ON, npower and ScottishPower.

What about suppliers who are not members of the Energy UK Code?

Whilst the Energy UK Code does not apply to all suppliers, the back-billing principle applies to all suppliers. Suppliers that are not formal members of the Energy UK Code of Practice for Accurate Bills may use the Code and its scenarios for guidance when deciding whether the back-billing principle should be applied.

What if my supplier isn’t applying the back- billing principle?

If your supplier has said that the back-billing principle or the Energy UK Code does not apply, and you are unhappy with their decision, the next step is to contact your supplier and follow their complaints process. All suppliers have a complaint handling procedure designed to assist their customers.

Need more advice?

Citizens Advice consumer service

If you need independent help and advice about back-billing issues or any other energy issues you can contact the government-funded helpline Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040 506 or visit their website: www.adviceguide.org.uk

The Ombudsman Services: Energy

If you are not satisfied with the supplier’s efforts to resolve your complaint after eight weeks, or if the supplier confirms it has reached a final position on your concern, you can ask the Ombudsman Service: Energy to investigate.

The Ombudsman Services: Energy is an independent body which has been set up to resolve disputes between energy companies and their customers. The Ombudsman will consider whether your supplier must take any action to put things right for you. Its decisions are binding on the energy company.

The Ombudsman Services: Energy, PO Box 966, Warrington, WA4 9D

Call - 03304 401 624 or 01925 530 263

Fax - 03304 401 625 or 01925 530 264

Call - 03304 401 600 or 01925 430 886

Email - enquiries@os-energy.org

Website - www.ombudsman-services.org/energy.html

We will do our best to always be fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional to all our customers.

Here at Utilita we put the customer at the centre of our business. We believe that every customer deserves to be treated fairly and with Respect. This is at the forefront of our minds whenever we talk to our customers.

Our Mission statement is -

To build a business that puts fairness at the heart of all we do, and have the courage to challenge the status quo to find better ways of providing essential services for the benefit of our customers.

How our values ensure we treat customers fairly

  • We always aim for Excellence and train our customer service advisers thoroughly to ensure that all the information we provide is complete, accurate and not misleading.
  • You can Trust us to be there for you - our phone lines are open 7 days a week. Click [HERE] for details.
  • We are Supportive and provide help for customers who are vulnerable which helps them stay on top of their energy bills.
  • We pride ourselves on our Agility - we use social media to share energy saving tips and information, and to make it easier for our customers to contact us when and how they want.
  • We believe in Fairness to all our customers - we give customers Friendly Credit hours to help them stay on supply during unsociable hours.
  • We deliver a smart meter at no extra cost to customers, providing the power to take control of energy costs the Smart way.

We are always keen to hear from our customers as we constantly strive to improve. If you think there is anything we can do to help treat you more fairly, please email us at customerservices@utilita.co.uk.

We understand that sometimes things go wrong. This is why we have a fully dedicated team of complaints handlers who are there to help find a fair outcome that works for you. We’ve tried to make our complaints process as easy as we can for you.

Utilita Contact Details

Customer Care Team: 03303 337 442

customerservices@utilita.co.uk

8:00am - 8:00pm Mon - Fri

8:00am - 5:00pm Sat & Sun

Social Media

For regular promotional, energy saving or industry updates, follow us here:

Twitter @UtilitaEnergy

Facebook www.facebook.com/UtilitaEnergyUK

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