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Hi

 

We have been harassed with debt collectors by First Utility. We switched suppliers on 9th February. On 22nd February First Utility put a stop on our account for 8 weeks whilst the final bill was re-assessed. They sent debt collectors to our door on 27th February. The bill was paid on 3rd March. They continued to send many texts asking us to settle the bill. I continue to receive emails and texts harassing me for payment up to yesterday (16th March). First Utility promise to resolve the matter; then the texts and emails continue. They say our details have been wiped from the debt collector's database, but the texts and emails continue.

 

So today I called a charity who get significant funding from First Utility and whom First Utility proudly publicise on their website. I spoke to the account handler who assured me that they have stringent controls and carry out full due diligence on their relationship to companies they are associated with. I pointed out that there could be many desperate families, some of whom they help, who are being similarly harassed by First Utility and that First Utility have a dysfunctional administration system plus a fine disregard for the legalities of sending round debt collectors. Was that really a company they wanted to be associated with?

 

If you have a problem like mine, contact a charity that First Utility supports. Ask to speak to the account handler for First Utility and send them your story. Once you have done that, call First Utility's media centre. I spoke to:

 

Joanne Murefu, First Utility:

07885 966269

 

 

These are desperate ways to make First Utility listen and react; but as I had already written to my MP, and the Guardian, and the Telegraph, I was left with no other choice.

 

Challenge the hypocrisy of First Utility: they say on their website:

 

'We want to change the face of the industry by fighting on your behalf. We're not happy for things to stay as they are so we challenge the status quo to make energy simpler, fairer and cheaper.'

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Hi MakeFirstUtilitylisten and Welcome to CAG

 

Unorthodox approach but novel...lets hope it has an effect..but I fully agree with your sentiments and understand the depths driven to and actions that one must take.

 

Regards

 

Andy


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Thanks Andy - I had to think long and hard to come up with it. But it has already made them sit up today. They are also recommended by Good Housekeeping Magazine - I am going to write to GH now and tell them what happened to us. I worry about people getting stuck in this nightmare alternative universe that is First Utility. Ofgem are essentially toothless; they just slap FU with a £50 fine or something. So First Utility know that they can act without limits.

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Very true...and not just FU...all the big energy providers need to look at their service.


We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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Contact also Good Housekeeping, who endorse First Utility and whom First Utility feature on their website:

 

Endorsements at GH:

 

ghiendorsement at hearst.co.uk

 

 

Press at GH:

 

media at hearst.co.uk (sorry I am new so I can't post whole email addresses)

 

and ask them if their brand isn't slightly tainted by association with First Utility's dark deeds. GH is a trusted brand whom consumers rely on; I don't think being associated with First Utility reflects well on them.

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Well, I already have a result of sorts; so this approach does work. I had a call from First Utility's Executive Office and was told that an email was being sent (of course as this is FU it hasn't arrived yet) which goes into our case in detail.

 

Apparently Phil Gripton (CE) and Ian McCaig are aware of this matter and it is being taken 'extremely seriously'. Well, we'll see.

 

I've also discovered that Fidelite, the debt collectors, are members of the CSA and the FCA and they have a strict code of conduct to follow.

 

It appears that First Utility should have informed me that they had passed us on to debt collectors (I guess they didn't have time, they did it so quickly after they issued the original bill) and as for continuing to contact us after First Utility had told them to stop, their defence will likely be that First Utility didn't contact them. So we will see what they have to say when we complain about harassment, but it's yet another line of enquiry that means we will be listened to and taken seriously. The CSA are very responsive.

 

Meanwhile the charity have contacted me to say they are taking this very seriously. So there's a lot of seriousness going on! We will see what happens, I will post once I have a response from First Utility.

Edited by MakeFirstUtilitylisten

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I wish you all the best with your contacts " Make First Utility Listen", I have already been through their Executive Complaints Team and direct e-mailing Ian McCaig, problem is one team does not speak to the other team and harrasment continues.

 

Keep us updated on your journey, I have already given them a list of my charges for time, e-mails, waiting on phone calls being answered and also letters, just need to add it up when proceeding to Small Claims.


Don\'t let the B**tards grind you down

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Hi ajs, interesting that you have also been through the Executive Complaints Team. I had a response but it was inadequate and sought to whitewash what had happened; so I rejected it and the derisory offer of compensation and asked for a deadlock letter. I am sure they will drag that one out for as long as they can.

 

But, I did get an immediate response from them after contacting the Charity. So that does work. I have had more contact from them today than I have ever had. And they have admitted fault re all the debt collection activity. But this has taken me most of the day. And my head hurts!

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Well well. The fabulous, alternative universe that is First Utility. Today I got a letter from Fidelite: 'WARRANT OF ENTRY TO ENTER YOUR HOME' (in big letters) which, when I actually read the letter, was about their intention to apply for a warrant of entry. This is after the full apology and admission by First Utility that they were wrong to use debt collectors in the first place. It beggars belief. I am making a complaint about Fidelite to the CSA and of course, First Utility have said that they will make sure Fidelite don't contact us again - (why do I doubt that?) but they are just not in control of their debt collection process. Something that Ofgem need to be aware of.

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How can they even try for a warrant of entry,

 

You are no longer with FU,

 

either scaremongering or incompetence,

if they did go for it make sure you get to see the judge and claim your expenses.

 

 

leakie

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Quite, Leakie.

 

Update on this; I spoke to the Energy Ombudsman today as First Utility didn't seem keen to give us a deadlock letter.

 

They agreed that the case was so serious that they are taking it on without a deadlock letter. I am posting this so that other people in a similar situation can know that you don't always have to wait eight weeks or get the agreement of your energy supplier before you can approach the Ombudsman. I wish I had called them sooner. However, they did say that in engaging with First Utility intensively we have shown goodwill in attempting to reach a resolution.

 

I was very careful to do the following throughout:

 

1. Insist FU send me emails confirming their actions

2. Kept all correspondence

3. Read all First Utility's emails explaining their conduct very carefully and wrote back pointing out all their inconsistencies

4. Kept all the harassing texts from First Utility (sent after the bill had been paid) and took photos of them for inclusion in my complaint to the Ombudsman.

 

We also found news on Ofgem's site of an open letter sent to First Utiility which makes sense of our experience - 80% of First Utiility's customers were either 'very' or 'quite' dissatisfied, and the complaints handling process was very poor. I can't post links but if you go to Ofgem or google 'First Utility Ofgem open letter' you will find it.

 

ofgem.gov.uk

 

 

I hope this post can be helpful to others. So far it has been a lot of effort when if we had contacted the Ombudsman maybe a month ago when we got the first debt collector letter, things could have been easier.

 

We feel very strongly that First Utility wished to punish us for switching supplier, and I will make this point to the Ombudsman.

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We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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Letter no longer there, maybe enticed to remove it (LOL)


Don\'t let the B**tards grind you down

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Thank you for the this post. I too have been harassed by FU for about 2 years now. The last correspondence I got was on the 19/9/16 stating they were investigating 'deadlock' - not too sure what this means - and it went quiet, a few days ago the emails and texts restarted. Yesterday I got a call to say we had reached deadlock and the amount was still outstanding and they claimed I got this letter on the 14/9/16?!

 

I've never had this letter, but it's apparently now in the post.

 

Basically we left this company in October 2015, I think. I was always in credit and after 28 days we still hadn't had our refund so I rang up, spoke to a call handler and he worked out we were in credit by £357. He arranged for us to have this back. In the January we got an email stating we owed this money back and they re took the money from a cancelled direct debit. I then rang our bank advising they had no right to take the money, which we had returned, yet we are still going round in this circle, we've never owed money on anything. We are also aware the meter reading was given incorrectly and even though they agree this was wrong they are still chasing us for the money and I've send the meter photos 3 times now!

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Skye I am sorry to hear you've also had problems.

 

Please contact Good Housekeeping. They were concerned by what had happened to me and First Utility got straight back to them to explain. But GH said that mine was the first ever complaint that they had received on FU. They promised that they do take this kind of thing 'seriously'- so I do suggest you get in touch. They are very responsive. FU rely on GH to shore up their reputation, so you may find that FU will respond quickly to this and your issue may get sorted. I hope so and it would be great to know if it works.

 

Email:

ghiendorsement at hearst.co.uk

 

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Are you getting anywhere with these muppets?

 

I have just gone back to Ombudsman so I'll see how they wriggle out of this one.


Don\'t let the B**tards grind you down

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cant see how they FU can put up those logos re 'award winning service' on their homepage.

partic when Ofgem recently (this year) did an open letter about their poor customer service and complaints procedure, and FU are high up on all the tables re number of relative customer complaints.


IMO

:-):rant:

 

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They must be struggling to give any power company this award, but come on, First Utility??????

 

Shows the sorry state that the industry is in.

 

cant see how they FU can put up those logos re 'award winning service' on their homepage.

partic when Ofgem recently (this year) did an open letter about their poor customer service and complaints procedure, and FU are high up on all the tables re number of relative customer complaints.


Don\'t let the B**tards grind you down

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An update: the Energy Ombudsman upheld our complaint and First Utility had to apologise and pay us £150.

 

This was something of a derisory amount and my only consolation is that they also have to pay for the Ombudsman enquiry - about £350 I think - but I also do feel that the relationship between the Ombudsman and the Utility companies is rather too close. However, I really don't have the energy to complain about the Ombudsman!

 

I do believe that my approach - contacting the organisations who shore up their reputation and who are answerable to the public in a much more direct way - is useful if you are stuck in a nightmare as we were, with First Utility refusing to even listen. First Utility will only sit up and take action if they are shamed into doing so.

 

We are now with Bulb and we could not be happier; our bills have gone down dramatically and they are unfailingly polite and pleasant.

Edited by MakeFirstUtilitylisten
  • Haha 1

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