/ Home & Energy

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.

Swede says:
1 March 2021

I’m exactly the same. Almost 5 months since they closed and no refund. The account was £500 in credit. Scottish power have been terrible and we’ve since left them.

Jem says:
5 March 2021

I have been told by SP that the YE final bills were imminent from January. I am still waiting. I have had my final bill from SP which I have now had to pay. I was hoping I’d have my £194 credit back to cover that bill but no that was optimistic. I was told by SP that they closed my DD after I asked them to. They didn’t and took the money. It’s now been 3 months and haven’t heard a word from YE. Disgraceful that whoever has our credit can hang on to your money like that. Think if all 74,000 YE customers were in credit how much they’ve been sitting on. I’ve now left SP as my bill with them for 2 months was the equivalent of 4-5 months with YE. I thought they were going to honour the rate we were paying with YE?

C Hardy says:
8 March 2021

As of 8 March, I’m also still waiting for the credit to be paid on my YE account. I have, though, at last received a final bill. Once I have received my credit, I’ve no intention of remaining with Scottish Power.

Alastair says:
10 March 2021

Just wondering if anyone ever managed to get their money back from Scottish Power? We’re still owed well over £100 from when we were switched from Tonik… every time we contact Scottish Power we’re told it will be credited in “a couple of weeks” – this has been going on since October and it’s like talking to a broken record… We don’t want to be supplied by Scottish Power but worry that if we switch supplier we’ll lose any chance of ever getting the money back…!

Joe Tuck says:
4 May 2021

Yeah right…. that’s why we went from fixed price with YE to variable with Scottish Power. Costs soared and we were told to wait for credit refund before switching from Scottish Power. Now 5 months on, all the good switching deals have gone. I blame Ofgem as they should have ensured we got a like-for-like deal instead we were thrown to the wolves. I wonder if we owed the Supplier money if they would wait 5 months or more for their money!!!

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.

John Jasper says:
28 February 2021

Yes, I’ve finally had my credit after contacting BBC Money Box. They gave me an e-mail address of a manager at Scottish Power and two days later miraculously it was sorted out.

Well done John. Thanks for letting us know.

I reported earlier that SP had reduced my DD without me intervening – only by 90p a month. But then, when checking my bank account, I found they had also refunded £180 from my credit balance. I take meter readings each month and track usage and cost on a spreadsheet so know where my account should be, and also check bills. So while I was aware I was in credit it is nice to see a supplier being proactive. SP cannot be all bad 🙂

So Mr. Jasper’s credit refund could have been a coincidence?

Some energy companies refund accumulated credit automatically and others do this on request. I never had an automatic refund from Scottish Power, even though they claimed to do this, and once they doubled my direct debit when I was well in credit. When I questioned this they did not understand why it had happened.

I presume that a new provider could inherit a debt but as far as I am aware a credit balance is refunded and not passed to the new supplier. As John Jasper has found it can be a challenge to recover the money.

malcolm r
After waiting almost six months to have my credit refunded by Scottish Power I don’t agree with your conclusion. Scottish Power told me more than one that I don’t exist as I had left Tonik Energy just before they went bust and was not transferred to them. They are responsible for refunding credit to all TE customers but are not meeting their responsibilities. The Ombudsman steps away as soon as an Administrator and SOLR is appointed and Ofgem does not care. All they do is reply with acknowledgement emails. After suffering through the Toxic accounting system upgrade and the subsequent big bills that didn’t make sense I thought my horror period was at an end when I switched to Octopus in September. How wrong was I.

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.

I was a customer of Tonik Energy from March 2019 and all through their accounting system upgrade fiasco. I stayed with them as I wanted my account to be up to date when I switched to another supplier and they agreed to change my old dials meter to a digital one. By September I gave up on ever getting correct bills so I switched to Octopus Energy. That switch became effective on 09 October. Tonik entered Administration the following day, on 10 October. Since then I have tried to get my credit balance refunded. The customers who were still with Tonik were transferred to Scottish Power, the Supplier of Last Resort (SOLR). Customers who had switched to another supplier had to wait for their accounts to be finalised by the Administrator. Those who were transferred to SOLR appear to be getting their accounts sorted and many have switched to a third supplier.

The Ombudsman closed mine and other complaints against Tonik as soon as they entered Administration. Ofgem is not interested in discussing the performance of the Administrator or the SOLR. Nobody can tell me the criteria for getting accounts finalised or credits refunded.

Scottish Power Customer Service tell me I don’t exist as I was now switched to them as SOLR. They have no information on my account. That is over two months after my bill was finalised by the Administrator. I keep being told I should get my money soon or at the end of the month or in the coming weeks. I asked what they based that estimate on and was told ‘that is what we were told to say’. I am now in touch with the CEO Office as I did not get anywhere with Customer Services.

The adverts and comparison websites, including Which all say switching is easy! That is until there is nobody to call on when things go wrong. I was told by Citizens Advice that my only option was the Parliamentary Ombudsman through my MP. So there is no consumer champion for this situation.

I will be lucky to get my credit refunded six months after I switched.

I received my credit refund cheque yesterday and can now delete all my emails of complaint to Tonik and the Ombudsman – when they were still accepting complaints – and my emails to the Administrator and the SOLR. I believe they used their three month long ‘billing system upgrade’ to hide their true financial situation. They continued to deduct direct debits but were not producing bills. Customers like me didn’t want to switch away as our accounts were not up to date.

This experience has made me think switching suppliers outside the ones I have had a good experience with is not a good idea when I could encounter another Tonik situation. My mental health has suffered in the past year and I’m not referring to the pandemic.

I’m an Ex Tonik Energy customer desperately trying to get my credit balance of well over £100 refunded. Was transferred to SP 10 Oct 2020 like everyone else but decided to stay with them after moving onto a better tariff. Had 3 tel conv and 2 emails from them all saying effectively ‘you will have your refund in the next couple of weeks’. Last em was beginning of Feb so going to have to chase them AGAIN. Will probs use Resolver if nothing happens soon.

Alastair says:
10 March 2021

Have you had any luck getting your money back yet? We’re in a similar position owed over £100 by Scottish Power after being transferred from Tonik. Every time we contact Scottish Power they say it will be “a couple of weeks” despite it now having been over 4 months… We tried to make a formal complaint and they rebuffed it saying it would be processed in a couple of weeks and we’d receive a letter from them very soon (that was now a month ago..) Tried contacting Ofgem who didn’t appear to care and said it may take several weeks to process, even though I told then it had already been over 4 months…

I’m an Ex Tonik Energy customer desperately trying to get my credit balance of well over £100 refunded. Was transferred to SP 10 Oct 2020 like everyone else but decided to stay with them after moving onto a better tariff. Had 3 tel conv and 2 emails from them all saying effectively ‘you will have your refund in the next couple of weeks’. Last em was beginning of Feb so going to have to chase them AGAIN. Will probs use Resolver if nothing happens soon.

Sam says:
3 March 2021

I’m in a slightly different position from what I’ve read above. I switched from YE on 20th November completely unaware of their financial position. After a few weeks of not hearing from them and knowing that I was several hundred pounds in credit with them, I logged on to my account only to discover that they had gone into administration and SP were taking over their accounts. I had absolutely no correspondence about this. Now, over 3 months down the line, I have heard nothing from YE or SP. I’ve phoned and emailed SP several times and come up against the ‘you’ll just have to wait’ brick wall. SP have no record of me in their system as I switched just before YE went bump and no idea of when I might get my money back!

I am still waiting for a Yorks energy refund of around £500 via Scottish. Scottish energy agent suggested that I contact the administrators Deloitte direct to get my money so I’d be interested to hear what you think of that? Needless to say the follow up call that Scottish booked for me to discuss further has not happened. should I now be making a formal complaint to ofgem? TIA

Previously with failed Tonik
Energy and moved to ScottishPower. At last, finally, over 5months later my credit balance of c. £130 has been transferred. But oh boy, the number of times and push backs from SP. Every 2 weeks since January I’ve been chasing both by phone and email with promises ‘within the next couple of weeks’. Finally, contacted Resolver on 10/3 which worked wonders. Coincidence? Who knows.

Hi Geoff – Well done getting the problem resolved. Did you decide to use Resolver or was this suggested by Scottish Power? Several people have mentioned Resolver in other Conversations.

The up side, Geoff70, is that you chose to deal with a company that went broke, holding your money. Often, as an unsecured creditor, that money would have been lost. But the Ofgem scheme not only kept continuity of your supply but provided the money you had “lost”.

Here is good news for anyone who is fed-up with energy companies keeping them well in credit and delaying refunding credit balances: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56413991

No doubt some people prefer to pay a fixed monthly amount throughout the year but I would rather have my money in my bank account.

My suppliers have set my monthly payments based on the energy use I have declared when I changed tariffs, normally the previous year’s. I am quite happy to have those costs spread equally throughout the year but, I believe, you can also opt to pay for your actual usage? I have not taken that option. My energy suppliers have automatically adjusted my DD if it departed from actual usage and transferred any significant credit into my bank account.

I wonder how many small underfunded suppliers rely on overcharging to get a free loan; quite a few demand the first payment up front before you have used any of their energy, so you give them, effectively, a loan of 4% of your annual bill.

“Figures obtained from energy regulator Ofgem through a freedom of information request reveal that, in October 2015, the UK’s energy suppliers held a total of £3.98bn of credit on their customers’ accounts.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38254071 More than five years later we have some action from Ofgem.

Well, except that the figure is now said to be only 1/3 rd of that. And October will be when the figure is at it highest, as equal monthly payments will have built up a credit over the summer, when we use less energy, in preparation for larger use during the winter.

Do we want to have equal monthly payments? It seems to suit many peoples budgeting.

I would prefer to pay for what I have used each month, but that’s an expensive way of buying energy. I would not object to equal monthly payments if that was the cheapest way to buy energy.

I am happy with my present service where I can increase or decrease my direct debit online or make a one-off payment – in a few seconds.

Ofgem need to take a look at Ovo’s methodology that puts their customers in control of their monthly DD payments, but sadly, it would seem, at the expense of their standard and prepayment customers and were fined a hefty amount by the regulator for doing so.

Price increases are going to affect payments as does usage, the latter being harder to estimate owing to fluctuations in external temperatures and a hundred other varying domestic circumstances.

One solution that may help to balance the books is for energy suppliers to offer an economy 7 type account that consumers with electric immersion heaters can use during the summer months when heating is switched off and only hot water is required and electricity is supplied at a much reduced rate during off peak hours at nightime.

Smart meters and phones are now able to switch power on and off remotely at the press of a button. DD monthly payments would then build up during the summer months and pay off any debit accumulated over the winter months, allowing sufficient credit to sustain your account until heating is switched back on in late autumn.

I think Ofgem need to address the problem caused by the influx of small energy companies offering unrealistic and unsustainable cheap quotes and then go bust, leaving their customers in the hands of larger companies that take too long to refund money owed to them.

More competition in the energy market was to supposed to prevent the unethical uncompetitive practices of the ‘Big Six’, and to some extent it did, until a few enterprising entrepreneurs decided to make a quick buck by starting up their own companies, and then disappeared leaving their customers and their money in the hands of the ‘Big Six’.

How close are we to completing a full circle and power is slowly heading back into the hands of the ‘Big Six’?

I’m believe Ovo is not the only energy retailer that lets customers set their DD payments. I’m sure I can do that with my current two, E.On and So Energy.

Yes, I mentioned recently that e.on provides its customers with an app. The biggest and most costly development has been smart metering and that should enable many more people to benefit from cheap rate electricity without the need for Economy 7/10.

Beryl – Ofgem has a lot to do to deal with and hopefully prevent unfair treatment of customers. They still have to get on top of the problem of small companies operating unsustainably and then going bust. Perhaps we might see more medium sized companies in future.

Kevin says:
17 March 2021

Octopus lets you set the DD payment, but also allows you to create your own refund on any credit balance.

And it’s easy to find the options in your online account, unlike the ‘unusability’ deliberately designed into many other customer portals.

Thanks Kevin. Octopus has impressed Which? for a few years and I know several people who are happy customers. I am rather concerned by their accounts at present.

Smart metering will only benefit off peak users if energy suppliers offer appropriate tariffs, such as hourly or half hourly. Cheap off peak electricity will be accompanied by significantly more expensive peak time, I expect. Users will need to examine the pattern of their usage to decide whether they are likely to benefit, just as they did with Economy 7 for example. As far as I remember you need to use at least half of your electricity during the night to offset the higher daytime cost and break even.

Consumers have paid a fortune towards the roll out of smart meters, which most of us did not want, at least at the cost involved. The benefit to the industry will be the load can be better balanced over a 24 hour period and hopefully consumers will benefit by being able to choose to use electricity when it is cheaper – not just overnight but at certain times of the day. Obviously there will be peak times of the day when electricity is more expensive. A smart tariff might not suit you unless you can be flexible.

With Economy 7/10 the cheap rate period(s) are published, and there is a cost of installing dual meters and a timer. With smart metering anyone with a suitable (SMETS2) smart meter should be able to try the system and switch back to a conventional electricity tariff if they are not happy. The main or only player at present is Octopus, with their Agile tariff, which is claimed to offer half hourly pricing. There is no exit charge if you do decide to move.

I don’t use much electricity but welcome smart metering in principle.

Immersion heaters now come with time switches that can be set for the allocated E7 duration,; the downside of this means you would need to set your washing machine or other appliances to switch on when you are asleep to benefit from cheap off peak tariffs to avoid higher daytime costs, something I would be reluctant to do until unattended white goods are guaranteed not to malfunction
during washing and drying cycles.

I am hoping that encouragement to use our washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers overnight will raise awareness of the need to manufacture machines that will contain a fire if it starts when we are in bed or out of the house. Until that happens the advice must remain to turn appliances off at night.

I’d like to see sprinklers in kitchens, and particularly in multi-occupation buildings. There are far more causes of kitchen fires than just these appliances.

Hmm. I have white goods in the kitchen, the utility room and the garage. I would settle for products that won’t set the place on fire if they develop a fault.

Perhaps we should get back to discussing defunct energy suppliers.

Our electricity bills do not vary much throughout the year and are not particularly concerning relative to the gas bills. I am usually marginally in credit on electricity. On the other hand the gas bills do rise and fall significantly across the year and, as Beryl says, a number of different factors affect the cost of heating; I am currently in deficit on the gas account but expect to be in credit before the Autumn.

Since we need the heating on during the daytime rather than overnight and the only significant electricity load we have after midnight is occasional use of the dishwasher I cannot see that some sort of tariff split would make any beneficial difference. Although . . . I suppose we could turn the heating off at 6:30 pm, go to bed at 7:00 pm and get up at 2:00 am in future, but then because the house gets colder in the small hours we would probably need more heating [starting at 1:00 am]. We could then do all the washing and ironing, dishwashing and cooking on the cheap rate.

Because gas is a storable commodity that can easily meet fluctuations in demand there is no off-peak price advantage and, as has been said by others, there is no point in using electricity to heat water where there is a gas supply.

Those who charge electric vehicles and do not have dual meters would benefit from smart metering. Those who do use storage heaters could boost them during the afternoon but avoid early evening, when the load on the grid is highest and electricity would cost more. For those of us with gas heating there is not much incentive to look at smart tariffs and at present there seems little choice for domestic use.

At present Octopus claims to pay their customers to use energy at certain times, which looks like a gimmick and maybe not a responsible one.

I am a so energy customer and you are correct, you do have control over your DD payment amounts.