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Are you waiting on a refund from a defunct energy supplier?

We’ve heard from a number of people awaiting refunds from suppliers who have recently ceased trading. How long should it take to get your money back?

I don’t always remember the exact moment I get an email from my energy supplier, but it’s perhaps appropriate in some way that I received notice my energy supplier had ceased trading right as I turned on the heat for the first time last autumn.

I’m certainly not alone – over the past few months several hundred thousand of other customers have likely received a similar notification. Earlier this year both Green Network Energy and Simplicity Energy closed, affecting some 410,000 customers, and last year also saw the closure of Tonik Energy and Yorkshire Energy.  

Guide: What to do if your energy supplier goes bust

The good news is that my lights didn’t go out while I was transferred to a new supplier, known as a supplier of last resort (SOLR) and chosen by Ofgem. This transfer was pretty straightforward, with the hardest part being having to crawl under the stairs for a meter reading. 

Given I had built up a fair amount of credit with my old supplier, I still had one remaining question:

How long until I got my refund?

Turns out I’m not alone here either. We’ve heard from a number of people awaiting refunds from suppliers who have recently ceased trading. What they’ve been promised doesn’t always measure up to reality:   

I asked Which? energy expert Sarah Ingrams about when people could expect their balance to be refunded. She said:

Exactly how long this takes depends on the information the failed supplier had, so it can be out of the new supplier’s control. Usually it’s the new supplier who will refund your credit or add it to your new energy account.

We asked Ofgem about this, and it said if a customer has not been contacted for several weeks by their new supplier, get in touch and ask when they’ll get their balance back. Ofgem doesn’t have a timetable for returning credit balances in a SOLR situation, but it is closely involved as the new supplier takes on customers to make sure it acts as speedily as possible”

Fortunately for me I was told several weeks later that my refunded credit will shortly be posted to me in the form of a cheque. Unfortunately though, that seems to be taking a bit longer than usual for my area. 

Share your experiences

If you’ve been with a supplier that’s recently ceased trading, we’d be keen to hear about your experience of being moved to a new supplier.

Has your new supplier communicated what’s going on with your supply in a way that works for you?  Have you received a refund for any account credit you had with your old supplier?

What other questions have you had about your transfer that you’d want to know from your new energy supplier?  

Once you moved fully to your new supplier, did you stick with it, or did you use the opportunity to find a better deal elsewhere?  

Tell us about it in the comments. 

Comments
Jon Tyler says:
13 February 2021

We’re in the reverse position. Isupply stopped domestic supplies in April and we were moved to EDF without our agreement. Then we received two bills totalling nearly £2000 for isupply bills which we had never received. I refused to pay, asking EDF to produce evidence of under payment. Because they’ve never bothered to read our meters, they can’t produce accurate bills or indeed any bills at all for the isupply period. We complained to the ombudsman but they closed the case without making a decision. I don’t know where to go from here but the whole system is a mess.

Be aware they cannot back-bill you for a period exceeding 12 months, provided you co-operated with your enegy supplier over access to meters, etc.

I was very fortunate to change suppliers just a few days before Green Network Energy went into administration. I hope I don’t have to wait too long for a refund as I have few hundred pounds to come back.

Ian Galloway says:
13 February 2021

Yorkshire Energy ceased trading and Scottish Power took over my account on 6 December. Still awaiting a refund or even a credit on my Scottish Power bills as at 13 Feb.

Jim Bedford says:
13 February 2021

I am in exactly the same situation. I spoke to someone at Scottish Power a few days ago and was told that final YE bills were imminent and to wait about 10-14 days for my refund and to check the SP account about the 20th Feb.

T Burton says:
16 February 2021

Good luck with that. I was with Tonik Energy when they ceased training in October. I had over £250 in credit at that point and since I have been with Scottish Power they have provided all of the excuses possible such as “wait a couple of weeks” or “wait a few weeks”. The final bill was produced in early November and I downloaded a copy. Then it disappeared from the website and when I complained that it had disappeared and they were taking so long to refund my credit, they offered me £25 if I agreed to closing the complaint! The final bill has just re-appeared this week and is for exactly the same value as it was in November. I have just passed the 4 month point and I am still waiting for the refund, then never again Scottish Power.

Hi Jim, thanks for sharing your experience. We’d like to get in touch by email to see whether your promised refund has come through.

Hi Ian, thank you for sharing your experience. We’ll get in touch by email to check whether you’ve had your refund.

Hi T Burton, we’d like to find out if you have now had your credit back so will get in touch with you by email.

It’s worth checking that any credit is refunded when switching to another supplier, whether this is done by choice or as a result of a company going bust. I switched from Scottish Power some years ago and the amount refunded did not look right. I discovered that they had refunded the credit balance for one fuel though I had a dual fuel contract. When I challenged SP they said it was “a mistake”.

B Clarke says:
16 February 2021

It does make me laugh that you recommend Octopus Energy as a good supplier in their adverts. I recently left them because they kept messing up my account and weren’t very helpful in clearing up the matter. I was about 180 pounds in credit which were approximately my 3 monthly costs. When my bill was available they said I owed about 180 which seemed strange as that was about what I was in credit. I rang them and complained they then said they would recalculate it. It then became 3200 pounds, I rang again and complained they then recalculated again and said it was approximately 180 pounds which I said couldn’t be as that was approximately how much I was in credit. The attitude was terrible and they said I had to pay. I asked where my 180 pounds credit had gone. The operator didn’t seem to know. I finally was stuck with paying up to protect my excellent credit rating and then changed supplier.
In 64 years this is the worst experience I have ever had with a supplier and am amazed that you rate them so highly, which leads me to wonder about your own integrity as a so-called consumer champion.

I suggest you make a complaint to the regulator, Ofgem.

Some businesses have really struggled during the past year thanks to coronavirus. I was going to look at Octopus when my contract is coming to an end later this year, but I will do my best to find up to date information about which companies are managing to provide a decent service.

Octopus Energy receives a very good rating from Which? members, so it’s not just the view of Which? Octopus also gets a good rating from on Trustpilot. In contrast, nPower receives poor ratings from both. I have not used either Octopus or nPower but I have been unhappy with two of the companies that Which? has rated poorly.

B Clarke says:
17 February 2021

I understand what you are saying, but I had probably the worst experience with Octopus that I have ever had with any company I have ever had dealings with. The excuse of Covid is not valid and has nothing to do with this case as my problems were well before it was causing problems. The operator I spoke to was smug and unapologetic about the errors they were making and didn’t seem to be keen to fix the problem and made no effort to try to retain my custom. I was polite and calm during both conversations.
This is also not the first time I have had doubts about the integrity of Which either, but as it is historic I will not bother to go into that. I am sure they have good intentions overall but also bear in mind that I’m sure they have a profit line to manage as well.

You could make a complaint to Octopus: https://octopus.energy/unhappy/
As I suggested earlier you could contact Ofgem.

From the most recent accounts for Octopus, the company is not doing very well, though that seems common among energy suppliers, since there are periodic failures of smaller companies.

Hi B Clarke, thank you for letting us know what happened.If this was an ongoing issue it would have been something to raise as a complaint and take to the ombudsman as clearly something was wrong – all energy companies have a complaints process they must follow.

Our recommendations of energy companies are based on our annual survey with more than 8,000 energy customers, plus other criteria including customer waiting times, complaints data, their procedures, any rulings or redress from the regulator and pricing.

There is some useful guidance here : https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/complain-about-electricity-gas-energy-bill

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/ombudsman-complaints

I hope this helps.

I was also with Yorkshire Energy and was transfered to Scottish energy. When I contacted them I was informed that I was on their special tariff for my gas and electrical supply, this is very expensive and I could not transfer from them until an account number had beed issued.
Eventually I obtained this and transfered away from Scottish Energy.
During late January I received a bill with no details attached, further details arrived in mid February. This bill is nearly twice as much as expected.
I understand that new tariffs and bills can only be applied once I have been advised of them and the old tariffs Yorkshire Energy are applicable until such time.
I am awaiting further communication regarding final bill and balance.
I am far from happy with Scottish Power deplorable customer relationship.

This Which? article points out that Npower and Scottish Power do now fare well for customer service: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/01/best-and-worst-energy-companies-for-2021-revealed/ I landed up with Scottish Power as a result of a collective switching scheme and was very disappointed.

Thankfully customers of energy suppliers that go bust are protected but they have no choice of which company they are moved to. Perhaps Ofgem, the regulator, should have a look at the performance of companies before deciding which company should benefit from customers of failed energy suppliers.

I’ve been with Scottish Power recently and found they were quite good.

Me too, Derek. They regularly review my usage and have just reduced my monthly direct debit by £0.90. (the last reduction was larger as my usage has been less than I predicted, but it shows they are paying attention).

I wonder how accurate these ratings really are. My bills from SP are accurate and, while they are given a 1* rating for value for money they came out as a very competitive 6th when I searched for my last deal. Admittedly that was through USwitch, and was not offered direct, but I’m happy.

My contract ends in April so I’ll be searching the market, but avoiding companies that seem to have an uncertain basis. I think there are too many energy suppliers, some who are opportunistic and without a good financial base on which to ride out the ups and downs, as we see from failures.

I think we are fortunate to be protected financially if and when a cheap supplier goes broke. Ofgem then look to other suppliers to take on the customers, and select one they feel appropriate. Otherwise how would the energy be paid for that continues to be used and where would refunds come from?

Whilst that initial choice necessarily rests with Ofgem it is incorrect to say that the customer has no choice. They are not locked into a contract and can arrange their own supplier once the formalities have been completed with the “emergency” supplier.

This is the current Which? information about energy providers: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/energy-companies/article/best-and-worst-energy-companies/which-energy-survey-results-ajqM43e6ycY8#best-and-worst-energy-companies That does not imply that everyone will have a bad experience with a poorly rated company.

I mentioned in another Conversation that it’s worth finding out about small companies before signing up to a contract with them. I looked at a couple of those mentioned as offering good deals in a recent Which? articles and the recent accounts of one of them showed a large deficit.

Ofgem is supposed to be looking at the viability of new entrants to the energy supply industry but I believe it should keep an eye on existing players too. Customers are protected but as Paul and others have found, there can be problems. Having a turnover of small companies that not run sustainably will mean that costs of dealing with failures are passed on to other users.

If I remember correctly when Ofgem undertook measures to assess the financial viability of energy companies it restricted it to new entrants. It was explained why it was not retrospective. I do not know how Ofgem would take action against an existing energy company unless it broke their rules. If it did raise a question about their financial viability that resulted in a loss of customers and revenue I expect it could be sued.

There is little incentive for customers to look up the financial standing of cheap energy companies if they simply want the best tariffs, knowing they are protected if, and when, their supplier goes bust.

I remember this too, but I am concerned about the costs of dealing with company failures and the fact that some consumers have considerable problems with the transition to new suppliers.

I will be considering switching supplier later in the year and will be looking at company accounts before committing myself to a contract for the next year or two.

I also was with Yorkshire Energy (a trading name of Daisy Energy supply Ltd.) & was moved to Scottish Power when Ofgem appointed S.P. as S.O.L.R. for the ex Yorkshire Energy customers.
I only found out about Y.E’s collapse when I received an email from S.P. late on 7/12/20 advising me of the situation & requesting meter readings be taken & uploaded within 7 days, plus bank details to confirm/set up a new DD with themselves. Photos of meters & readings were taken the same day & uploaded to S.P. the following morning, along with bank details, & receipt of these received from S.P.
Long story cut short: S.P. failed to deliver on promises made about timescales etc. & lost the data I had already provided.
Have since moved from S.P. on 27/01/21 & am awaiting final bill from S.P.
Final bill arrived 17/02/21 from Y.E. & was correct. Final bill from S.P. should arrive within 14 days.
As I also had not been informed by S.P. of the specific standing charges or unit rates applicable to my address/postcode on the ‘Exclusive Tariff’, thus not been given the opportunity to make an informed choice, I will contest the final bill if S.P. attempt to charge anything other than the same rates I was on with Y.E.
Suggest you search Ofgem for pdf file: & download for your records. Page 4 makes interesting reading.
Also suggest if you need to complain about final bill or take S.P. to task you should communicate through the ‘RESOLVER’ platform which is associated with the Money Saving Expert site. Its free & records all communications & timescales on your behalf, and gives you reminders when next step needed or when case can be escalated.

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/licence-guide-information-consumers

Sorry but the original link above did not upload correctly in my 16.31 post.

Hi Paultwyford, thank you for sharing your experience. We’d like to get in touch by email to hear more about you not being able to change supplier.

John Jasper says:
18 February 2021

I’m another one (of 130,000) who was with Tonik which failed in October and my energy was transferred to Scottish Power. I received a final account from the administrators on 2nd November but the balance hasn’t been credited to my Scottish Power account. I’ve sent e-mail messages to Scottish Power but just get fobbed off replies from their operatives in India, just a load of waffle. They don’t dispute that the balance of about £ 130 needs to be applied to my account. My Direct Debit has been increased and the new tariff is more expensive than the Tonik one. About a week ago I opened a complaint and have yet to hear back from them. I’d just like this resolved so that I can then decide which energy supplier and tariff to choose for the future. There are so many other people complaining online and it’s been on BBC Radio’s Money Box (16 January). In fact the customer featured on that programme had his credit balance transferred within 48 hours of the Money Box researcher getting involved. They quoted Scottish Power saying that only a few hundred customers were left to be dealt with and it would be done within a couple of weeks. It’s hard to believe that! Is there anything Which could do to help? If I don’t get a response from my complaint I’ll consider going to the Ombudsman or small claims court.

Hi John, thank you for sharing your experience. We’d like to get in touch by email to check if you have had your credit back yet.

As an ex-Yorkshire Energy customer transferred to Scottish Power I now have an update. I received my Final Bill today from Y.E. which included the important credit details and should be on its way at last to S.P. I also received my first bill from S.P. via their website when I looked in. This actually explained a puzzle. I never received a welcome pack from them and when I spoke to their special ‘phone number with various queries the man there said he would send off a replacement. This also didn’t arrive. The explanation would seem to be that on the bill my address is completely wrong – house number, street name and postcode; only the city Wakefield was correct. Would this person receive any cheque also? S.P. are not exuding efficiency enough to keep my custom!!

Hi Stuart, that sound like a serious mistake.

If you have not done this already, I suggest that you check that SP actually have the correct meter serial numbers registered against your account.

When I moved to a new property 9 years ago, I soon discovered that may gas account was linked to my neighbours’ meter and vice versa.

I had 4 electricity meters registered on the central data base. Old ones had, presumably, not been taken off when a new one was installed. It caused a delay in changing to a new supplier but npower – the chosen one – sorted it out pretty quickly.

Scottish Power like your money, like others i find their practice of holding onto your credit balance unethical. Having been moved to them when Yorkshire Energy failed my experience is not good. They were very quick (day after appointment by ofgem) sending email asking for meter reading and bank payment details which I duly provided. After a week of no more contact i requested info of the tarrif i had been given, several days later was sent a std tarrif sheet that was not appropriate to my supply. So i requested to switch, which they then blocked as apparently my account was not set up. After a few threats they relented and allowed the switch. After the switch away from Scottish Power is completed, i finally get advice of the tarrif. Scottish Power confirm my Yorkshire energy account was in credit and a week later receive my scottish power bill with no credit balance carried forward. I request an explanation and am told that whilst the credit is on my account it was not applied when the bill was raised, I then ask what payment they intend claiming from my bank. The answer, the bill amount, and to claim my due credit I must wait 5 days after the bank payment has gone through then I will need to make a claim for the credit. In fairness to the advisor I was told i could counter this by canceling the bank order and make a manual payment, which I have done as luckily i caught it with 2 days to spare.

My main problem with Scottish Power was over a growing credit balance. They kept wanting to increase my monthly direct debit, even when I was well in credit. At least they would agree with me and take prompt action but I became fed-up phoning them because at the time I could not manage my online account. Maybe online management is now available but it was not when I was a customer. Some people get on fine with Scottish Power, as you can read above.

I am with Ovo at present and see that I’m £40.83 in debit thanks to cold weather and being stuck at home. I could change the direct debit or make a one-off payment by visiting the website but the debt will clear with time now that the weather is warmer. I’m not sure what the future will bring because Ovo has greatly increased in size.

I just wish I could pay for what I use, perhaps clearing the balance monthly as I do for my credit cards. Unfortunately, that is an expensive way of paying for energy.

I hope you get sorted out, Rob.

Hi Rob, thank you for sharing your experience. We’d like to get in touch by email to discuss this further.

HilaryM says:
20 February 2021

Robin Hood Energy customers have been transferred to British Gas recently, as SOLR, unless they made a quick decision to go elsewhere – it was a brief window of opportunity and I wish I had taken it.
My supplier was actually Ebico, who partnered with Robin Hood for admin services (before that, Ebico had been using Southern Electric for account management services – I wish they had stayed with them).
Having paid my final bill before the transfer, and received a statement confirming receipt a few days later, I am now being told to pay the same amount to British Gas. Unfortunately Robin Hood Energy asked British Gas to pay the bill as well as asking me. We both paid, and Robin Hood energy put both credits on my statement, telling me I was now in credit by double the amount of the bill (as if it had been paid three times – which makes no kind of sense).
If British Gas want their money back, they should be getting that from Robin Hood energy, not from me. The email from British Gas asking me for the payment was headed something like “your transfer has gone through now and everything’s fine” (so I didn’t read it immediately) and the demand for payment was buried about halfway down it. Is it legal for an energy company to send just a chatty email to demand a payment instead of a proper itemised bill?
I went onto their website a week ago and thought I had got this sorted out (at least partly) using livechat – but I asked for a transcript and it hasn’t come through yet, which is beginning to worry me. To get out of the website I had to go through two customer experience surveys, so I explained all over again in those what the situation was, because I clearly wasn’t going to give them 5 stars! Whatever figure they eventually come up with, I have said repeatedly that I want a proper itemised bill, not a random figure out of thin air which the livechat person was quoting to me (that was a credit figure, so I don’t believe it was correct anyway).
Terrible sense of deja vu, as British Gas delayed my transfer away from them in 2007 for several months by making what should have been a straightforward situation horribly complicated. Robin Hood Energy have also made a pigs ear of their part of the transfer-to-SOLR process in late 2020, but I’ve never actually been their customer, so not sure if I can contact them at this stage or what good it would do.
My next step will probably be a formal complaint to British Gas, which may create even more delay before I get anything from them in writing. The SOLR transfer was onto a special short-term tariff that’s supposed to be very similar to Ebico’s but expires in March, at which point I was planning to transfer away from British Gas, but it looks unlikely that this will be resolved in time to be able to transfer then.
Thanks for listening, sorry for going on and on, it’s amazing how complicated a situation can get when a company blindly relies on computers (many of which clearly haven’t been programmed to tell the difference between debit and credit balances) instead of common sense.

Hilary – It was good to have the full story; so often we get fragments and have to guess the whole extent of what has gone wrong before suggesting a resolution.

It seems to me that there will be an ongoing negotiation between you and British Gas whatever you do because they are retaining a credit that is rightfully yours. And, as you say, you are entitled to an itemised statement from BG before this can be settled to your satisfaction and that might take some time. But there is no reason why this should delay your transfer to another energy supplier.

The transfer is initiated by the new supplier of your choice who will contact BG and organise the changeover. You would from that point be on the new supplier’s tariff of your choice but the negotiation with BG would have to continue independently of that and in due course it will be resolved. If you can financially bridge the transfer without having to wait for the refund of your credit then it should be quite straightforward and you can benefit from your new supplier’s terms from the earliest opportunity. There are timescales dictated by Ofgem for executing the switch which both BG and your new supplier would have to comply with so BG could not prevaricate and prevent you from transferring away.

HilaryM says:
20 February 2021

That’s helpful, thank you John Ward, especially about the timescale being dictated by Ofgem. However, although the main theme of this conversation is about waiting for a refund, I’m not actually waiting for a refund – I apologise if my contribution was misleading in that respect – I was just commenting generally on my experience of a botched transfer to a SOLR. The overpayment in my account definitely didn’t come from me, so it doesn’t belong to me. As far as I know it was put into my account by BG (or Robin Hood Energy) during the transfer process. I suppose I could transfer out and take the remaining credit with me, but that would just make the mess worse in my opinion.