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Updates from Team Bulb

Update from Bulb: improving our processes

We've always tried to be transparent and put our members first. Our footprint in the energy market has changed a lot in the past few years, but our attitude to mistakes has not. That's why we’re letting you know about some mistakes we've made recently which have affected our members.

1. We sent incorrect Priority Services Register information to the energy networks

In spring 2019, Bulb was working on the new Priority Services Register sign-up form in the Bulb Account. This was to make it easier for all our members in vulnerable situations to sign up for additional Bulb services if they preferred to do it online rather than via the phone.

When members join our Priority Services Register, we send their details on to their local Distribution Network Operator (DNO). They are responsible for restoring electricity supplies after a power cut – so they keep a Priority Services Register of their own. After we released our online form, we continued sending the information to DNOs, but with the wrong information. This meant these members were not on the networks’ Priority Services Register (PSR).

During the time that this happened, we’ve identified 933 members who experienced a power cut of at least 3 minutes and were not on the networks’ PSR. This didn't affect the service that we offered those members, but, if there had been an unusually long power cut then they might have experienced slower service from their network company. We’ve contacted these members and not identified anyone directly affected, but it's a mistake on our part which we regret.

We identified this mistake ourselves and informed Ofgem about it. While we’re not aware of any member having a bad outcome, we're paying compensation to the members involved, we've fixed the issue quickly and we are closely monitoring what we send to the network.

We’ve also used this incident to reevaluate our services to vulnerable members. We immediately brought in an external advisor to help us improve our services and have created a new team dedicated to members who require extra support.

2. Some members were unable to switch to Bulb when they wanted to

Ofgem contacted us about an issue in Scotland where customers with unusual meter set-ups had struggled to switch to Bulb. 3,888 people had tried to do so but failed, as our sign-up process didn’t always work for their metering set-up. We're sorry this happened - not least because we would have loved to have welcomed them as members. We have offered to pay compensation to each of these customers as an apology for their poor switching experience.

We’ve reconfigured our sign-up process so people with these types of meters can join us.

3. We incorrectly charged some members with unusual meters

There's an unusual power meter arrangement known as a 'restricted meter infrastructure' which means people have two electricity meters. From September 2017, 11,458 people with this set-up were charged two standing charges, one for each of the meters, by Bulb. We had misinterpreted industry rules around how to charge restricted metering customers. We thought we should charge two standing charges and offer a single unit rate. This was incorrect. Ofgem contacted us about this issue in February 2020 and we have worked with them to resolve it, we've repaid any incorrect charges and offered compensation. Many members may not have known about this issue because they were still paying less than they were with their previous supplier.

We’ve changed our billing process so people with these meters will be charged appropriately. We’ve offered compensation to these members.

To reflect that we could have done better, we’re paying into an independent voluntary redress fund, which may help people with energy efficiency or financial support.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our systems and technology, but in these instances we needed to improve. To do so, we’ve strengthened the relevant teams, introduced new processes and training and introduced more checking and verification.

We'd also like to express our thanks to the energy regulator Ofgem for working with us on these issues. Energy customers should know that Ofgem are working hard on their behalf.

We're sorry. We will do better.