Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland

 
 
Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland
ECCEINI0418

            Energy consumer checklist
            Prepared by the Utility Regulator and
            Consumer Council for Northern Ireland

            electricireland.com

            Smarter Living

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 1   13/06/2018 11:39
Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland
2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 2   13/06/2018 11:39
Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland
European Commission

    Energy Consumer Checklist
    Prepared by the Utility Regulator and
    The Consumer Council

    The checklist is a collection of questions and subsequent answers
    that aim to provide practical information to consumers concerning their
    rights in relation to the energy sector.
    This document is available for all consumers, but may be most
    relevant to domestic consumers.

    Section 1:        Information Obligations
    Section 2:        Contracts and Billing
    Section 3:        Prices, Tariffs and Monitoring
    Section 4:        Free Choice of Supplier
    Section 5:        Connect to Network
    Section 6:        Complaint Handling
    Section 7:        Consumer Representation
    Section 8:        Social Measures
    Section 9:        Unfair Commercial Practices

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 3                           13/06/2018 11:39
Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland
Section 1:                                                      IPIGXVMGMX]ER^HSVKEWGSRWYQIV8LI
                                                                    'SRWYQIV'SYRGMPGEREPWSTVSZMHIJYVXLIV
                                                                    MRJSVQEXMSRSRER]WTIGMJMGUYIVMIWEach
    Information obligations                                         electricity and gas supply company requires a
    1. What organisations or bodies in my                           licence to operate in the Northern Ireland
                                                                    energy market. There are conditions within
    area can help me to find out more about
                                                                    these licences, in relation to consumers, that
    switching supplier?
                                                                    they must meet, along with additional
    As a domestic or business customer you can
                                                                    requirements that are set out within Codes of
    switch your electricity and/or your natural gas
                                                                    Practice set by the Utility Regulator, which
    supplier, where other suppliers are available1.
                                                                    can be found on its website.
    This is an easy process which could potentially
    save you money.                                                  The electricity and gas supply companies
    A leaflet has been produced regarding
              2                                                      are also required to have in place their own
    switching suppliers, which can be found on the                   Codes of Practice with regard to consumer
    Utility Regulator website3, or on The Consumer                   issues, such as handling complaints, disability,
    Council website4.                                                financial difficulty and prepayment/Pay As
                                                                     You Go meters. These are available on each
    The Consumer Council also has a guide for                        supplier’s website, no more than two clicks
    energy users, Switch On5 which may help you                      from their homepage.
    choose the right supplier for you. Domestic
    consumers can also use their independent                         Gas companies (network operators and
    online energy price comparison tool6 to                          suppliers) and NIE Networks must follow a set
    compare electricity and gas prices for every                     of Guaranteed Standards of Service (GSS).
    supplier in Northern Ireland, in order to get the                These GSS set out specific levels of service
    best deal.                                                       which individual consumers can expect from
                                                                     their energy companies. Gas companies are
    Once you have decided which supplier is best                     required to have in place a Notice of Rights,
    for you, contact them directly and they will                     providing consumers with details of how to
    assist you through the switching process.                        access compensation payments should the
                                                                     standard of service they receive be less than
    'SRXEGXHIXEMPWJSVEPPWYTTPMIVWERHRIX[SVO
                                                                     that set by the Utility Regulator.
    STIVEXSVWGERFIJSYRHSRXLI9XMPMX]
    6IKYPEXSV[IFWMXISV]SYGERGSRXEGX8LI                      You can also refer to the terms and conditions
    'SRWYQIV'SYRGMPSR                               of your particular product.
    SVZMETSWXXS
    8LI'SRWYQIV'SYRGMP                                             For independent advice on your rights and
    *PSSV7IEXIQ,SYWI                                            more information on a particular issue,
    %PJVIH7XVIIX                                              please contact The Consumer Council on
    &IPJEWX&8)2                                                 0800 121 6022.
                                                                     3. Where do I go to find out more on
    2. What are my rights as an electricity
                                                                     payment methods?
    and / or gas consumer?                                           Business customers of gas and electricity
    This Consumer Checklist provides you with                        should contact their supplier directly
    answers to many questions on your rights as an                   for information.
    1
       he Utility Regulator has worked hard to encourage competition in both the domestic electricity and gas markets. A number
      T
      of new suppliers have already entered the energy market and the Utility Regulator will continue to promote competition to
      ensure choice for consumers.
    2
      https://www.uregni.gov.uk/sites/uregni/files/media-files/2017%20Switching%20Leaflet.pdf
    3
      https://www.uregni.gov.uk/
    4
      http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications/ulitity-regulator-find-out-how-to-switch/
    5
      http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/filestore/documents/38978_CC_Switch_on_Electricity_and_Gas.pdf
    6
      http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/energy-price-comparison
    7
      https://www.uregni.gov.uk/

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 4                                                                     13/06/2018 11:39
Energy consumer checklist - Prepared by the Utility Regulator and Consumer Council for Northern Ireland - Electric Ireland
Domestic customers                                               Practice on Services for Prepayment Meter
    All electricity and gas suppliers must offer a                   Customers9. The annual statement that you
    range of payment methods, with at least the                      now receive will also provide this information.
    following three methods for domestic
                                                                     You can compare the cost of each unit (known
    customers to choose from:
                                                                     as kilowatt hour or kWh) of gas or electricity of
    •• standard credit in arrears,
                                                                     the different suppliers. You will find this on your
    •• direct debit; and
                                                                     bill or on the suppliers’ website, or you can call
    •• prepayment/Pay As You Go meter.*
                                                                     the supplier and ask.
    *No additional charge is applied for the
                                                                     You will also need to find out if there is:
    installation of a prepayment/Pay As You Go
                                                                     •• A standing charge that all customers must
    meter. Your energy supplier will provide you
                                                                        pay regardless of how much gas or electricity
    with more information on your choices.
                                                                        they use;
    There may, however, be a charge applied to                       •• A minimum charge which all customers have
    change from prepayment/Pay As You Go meter                          to pay even if you use very little gas or
    to another form of payment. Check this with                         electricity;
    your supplier.                                                   •• Any introductory offers;
                                                                     •• An expiry date of introductory offers,
    Some suppliers offer other ways to pay. Ask
                                                                        incentives or loyalty payments and any
    your supplier, or a supplier you are considering
                                                                        charge for leaving a fixed term deal;
    switching to, to see what options they offer.
                                                                     •• Details of the standard tariffs that will apply
    4. What information would I need to allow                           after the introductory offers end;
    me to assess alternative supply offers?                          •• Any other charges that may apply.
    The Consumer Council has an energy price                         You can then work out what your annual bill
    comparison tool8 on their website which                          would be with a different supplier using
    domestic consumers can use to compare                            The Consumer Council’s energy price
    electricity and gas prices for every supplier in                 comparison took, or, if you wish, use the
    Northern Ireland, this may help you decide on                    following calculation:
    the best option for you.
                                                                     Annual use x cost per kWh offered + any
    You will need to know how much electricity or                    additional charge (such as ‘standing charge’,
    gas you use. Households tend to use less                         and ensure you add a full year’s charge as
    energy in summer than in winter so make sure                     these can often be shown as quarterly
    you take into account a full year’s use.                         charges).
    If you pay by standard credit in arrears, or by
    monthly/quarterly direct debit you will find the
                                                                     5. What information should be provided
    amount of electricity or gas you use on your bill.               on my bill?
                                                                     As outlined in question 2, each electricity and gas
    Prepayment/Pay As You Go meter customers                         supply company are required to meet conditions
    should be able to find this information from                     set out within the Code of Practice on Bills and
    their meter – if you do not know how to do this                  Statements10, set by Utility Regulator.
    please contact your current electricity or gas
    supplier, or check the supplier’s Code of

    8
      http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/price-comparison-/
    9
       This is called Code of Practice for Prepayment Consumers in the Gas Supply Licence. While some licences may refer
        to consumers rather than customers, for the purposes of this paper, consumers will be taken to have the same meaning
        as customers.
    10
         https://www.uregni.gov.uk/sites/uregni/files/media-files/2017-07-05%20FINAL%20domestic%20bills%20and%20
          statements%20CLEAN%20-%20Annex%203.pdf

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 5                                                                     13/06/2018 11:39
Business customers should refer to the Code of              •• Information about the Code of Practice which
    Practice on Bills and Statements for business                  sets out the services, advice and assistance it
    customers11 for the information that should be                 provides to customers who may be having
    included within their bills.                                   difficulty in paying for their electricity or gas.
                                                                •• A reminder that other suppliers are available,
    A domestic customer’s bill should include the
                                                                   and information about where the customer
    following information:
                                                                   can obtain further information about changing
    •• The name and address of the supplier.
                                                                   supplier.
    •• The meter number i.e. the Meter Point
                                                                •• Information about customer’s rights in relation
       Registration Number (MPRN) for electricity,
                                                                   to complaints and contact details for The
       Supply Meter Point Number (SMPN) for gas,
                                                                   Consumer Council.
       applicable to the customer/customer’s
                                                                •• Information about the Energy Consumer
       premises.
                                                                   checklist and its availability on the supplier’s
    •• The following information about the tariff on
                                                                   website, as well as in hard copy to the
       which the customer is being supplied:
                                                                   customer on request, and free of charge.
         •• Full name of tariff;
                                                                •• Contact details of at least one organisation
         •• the applicable unit rate, expressed in
                                                                   that provides information or assistance to
            pence per kWh;
                                                                   consumers on improving energy efficiency.
         •• the details of any discount that applies to
                                                                •• Gas supply companies will also include the
            the tariff (when compared to the supplier’s
                                                                   website address of the Supplier’s Notice of
            standard tariff)
                                                                   Rights (referenced in question 2 above) and
         •• a statement to highlight to the customer
                                                                   details on how the customer can request a
            that there may be cheaper tariff options
                                                                   printed copy of this.
            available.
    •• The total charges applicable for the period of           If your bill is estimated you can register a
       the bill or statement, containing a breakdown            self-read. Contact your supplier for further
       to include:                                              information.
         •• any applicable standing charges
                                                                For Prepayment/Pay As You Go meter
         •• total charges exclusive of VAT
                                                                customers, the annual statement will provide
         •• total charges including VAT; and
                                                                details of the number and total value of the
         •• any other charges (if applicable).
                                                                prepayments made in each calendar month of
    •• The amount of electricity or gas that has been
                                                                the statement period.
       used by the customer for the current billing
       period and for the same period for the                   6. Where do I look to find out more about
       previous year (if with the same supplier).               energy efficiency measures in my area?
    •• Electricity suppliers will include information on        Your energy supplier is required to give you
       the environmental impact of the fuel they use            information and advice to help you use your
       to generate electricity.                                 electricity or gas more efficiently, and on
    •• Information about any further action required            renewables. Each supplier has a Code of
       following receipt of the bill or statement, for          Practice on using electricity/gas efficiently and
       example, if an outstanding amount is to be               you should contact them and request a copy.
       paid, details of how much is to be paid and
       the date of payment.                                     Alternative energy advice is also available on
    •• A statement to advise customers that are                 the NI Direct government website
       having difficulty paying their gas or electricity        www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/energy-wise
       to contact them immediately for help
       and guidance.

    11
         https://www.uregni.gov.uk/sites/uregni/files/media-files/2017-07-05%20FINAL%20non-domestic%20bills%20and%20
          statements%20CLEAN%20-%20Annex%205.pdf

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The Consumer Council’s Switch On12 leaflet                  promotional materials, about the fuel they use
    contains energy efficiency information.                     to generate electricity (known as the fuel mix).
    Download it from their website or contact them
                                                                There will be a table on your electricity bill
    on 0800 121 6022 for a free copy.
                                                                showing the fuel used to generate the
    You can also contact Bryson Energy on                       electricity your supplier has sold in the previous
    0800 1422 865.                                              year. This calculation is checked by the Utility
                                                                Regulator and a report16 is produced and put on
    7. Who is responsible for consumer                          the website.
    protection in my area?
    The Consumer Council has a responsibility to                If you do not have access to the internet you
    represent energy consumers in Northern Ireland              can contact the Utility Regulator at the
    and has a dedicated team which investigates                 following:
    enquiries and complaints on behalf of                       Utility Regulator,
    consumers about natural gas and electricity.                Queens House,
    To contact The Consumer Council call free on                14 Queen Street,
    0800 121 6022, email                                        Belfast, BT1 6ED
    contact@consumercouncil.org.uk or visit                     Telephone: +44 (0) 28 9031 1575
    www.consumercouncil.org.uk                                  Fax: +44 (0) 28 9031 1740
    The Utility Regulator has a duty to protect the             Email: info@uregni.gov.uk
    interests of electricity and gas consumers in               9. What other sources of energy are sold
    Northern Ireland. For more detail about how it
                                                                by suppliers in my area?
    looks after consumers’ interests please see its
    corporate plan13, its forward work plan14, and its          Electricity
    annual report15.                                            Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE
    For general consumer advice, Consumerline is                Networks) owns and manages the electricity
    Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service’s                network – wires, pylons and meters. Those
    one stop shop offering free help and advice to              companies who supply electricity (suppliers)
    Northern Ireland consumers. Consumerline helps              pay NIE Networks a fee to transport electricity,
    you avoid scams, dodgy deals, make a complaint              and then sell it straight to the consumer. It
    and stay up to date with consumer law. Calls to             doesn’t matter who your supplier is, NIE
    Consumerline on the 0300 123 6262 number                    Networks is responsible for making sure the
    cost no more than a national call (01/02                    electricity reaches your home.
    numbers) – even from a mobile phone. Calls will             A full list of electricity suppliers in Northern
    also be included in any free minutes you may                Ireland can be found on the Utility Regulator
    have from your network provider. Alternatively,             website, or you can contact The Consumer
    you can register your complaint online.                     Council on 0800 121 6022.
    8. How do I find out the fuel mix of my                     Natural Gas
    energy consumption?                                         The Northern Ireland natural gas network has
    Electricity suppliers are required to inform all            three network operators who operate in
    customers, (including Prepayment/Pay as You                 separate distribution areas as detailed below:
    Go meter customers), on, or with bills, and in

    12
       http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/filestore/documents/38978_CC_Switch_on_Electricity_and_Gas.pdf
    13
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/corporate-strategy-2014-2019
    14
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/20162017-forward-work-programme
    15
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/utility-regulator-annual-report-2015-2016
    16
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/fuel-mix-disclosure-2016

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 7                                                        13/06/2018 11:39
•• firmus energy (Distribution) Ltd (from the                    in bottles/tanks/cylinders. It can also be
       North West through the Central region to the                  supplied from one or more bulk tanks stored at
       Southern areas of Northern Ireland),                          a property and a number of residents can share
    •• Phoenix Natural Gas (mainly the Greater                       the gas using a meter to calculate their use.
       Belfast, East Down and Larne areas), and                      There are two suppliers of LPG in Northern
    •• SGN Natural Gas (Distribution) in the West of                 Ireland – Flogas and Calor Gas. The gas is
       Northern Ireland.                                             bought through local outlets available
                                                                     throughout Northern Ireland. To find an outlet in
    Each network operator owns and manages the
                                                                     your area contact the supplier:
    natural gas network in their distribution area.
    Those companies who supply gas (suppliers)                       Calor Gas Northern Ireland Limited
    pay the relevant network operators a fee to                      Tel: 028 9045 5588
    transport natural gas, and then sell it straight to              Web: www.calorgasni.com
    the consumer. Although a network operator is
                                                                     Flogas
    responsible for making sure the natural gas
                                                                     Tel: 028 9073 2611
    reaches your home it is the responsibility of
                                                                     Fax: 028 9073 2020
    your gas supplier to bill you for the gas you use.
                                                                     E-mail: info@flogasni.com
    A full list of natural gas suppliers in Northern                 Web: www.flogasni.com
    Ireland and the areas in which they operate can
    be found on the Utility Regulator website, or                    Coal
    you can contact the Consumer Council on                          Coal is available at outlets throughout Northern
    0800 121 6022.                                                   Ireland. Search your local services directory
                                                                     for outlets.
    New areas are being connected to a gas supply
    on a regular basis. To check if gas is available                 Renewable microgeneration
    where you live, contact your network operator:                   Suppliers of renewable micro generation
                                                                     equipment and services are available
    •• Firmus energy (Distribution) Ltd at http://                   throughout Northern Ireland. For more
       www.firmusenergy.co.uk or telephone 0800                      information contact your current electricity
       032 4567, or                                                  supplier.
    •• Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd at http://www.
       phoenixnaturalgas.com or telephone                            10. How can I find out what sources of
       03454 55 55 55, or                                            energy are used if my supplier’s claim
    •• SGN Natural Gas (Distribution) https://www.                   that its electricity is or parts thereof are
       sgn.co.uk/ or telephone 0800 912 1700.                        ‘green’ is true?
                                                                     All electricity suppliers are required to inform all
    Home heating oil
                                                                     customers about the fuel they use to generate
    Home heating oil is available from around 300
                                                                     electricity.
    suppliers throughout Northern Ireland. Some
    areas will have more suppliers than others. To                   There will be a table on your electricity bill
    find a supplier check online. A weekly survey of                 showing the fuel used to generate the electricity
    home heating oil prices is available on The                      your supplier has sold in the previous year.
    Consumer Council website.
                                                                     This calculation is checked by the Utility
    Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)                                    Regulator and a report17 is produced and put
    Often referred to as bottled gas, this is available              on their website.

    17
         https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/fuel-mix-disclosure-2016

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 8                                                             13/06/2018 11:39
Section 2:                                           •• Are prices fixed for a specific period?
                                                         •• Is there an introductory offer? How long will it
    Contracts and Billing                                   last? What happens when it expires? Is there
                                                            a charge for leaving before the offer expires?
    11. What minimum information is my                   •• Details of the standard tariffs that will apply
    supplier obliged to give me on my bill?                 after the introductory offers end.
    Details of all the information that should be        •• Are there any extra costs involved, for
    included with your bill are provided at Question        example, paying a security deposit or
    5 on pages 5-7.                                         replacing lost/damaged top-up cards for
                                                            prepayment/Pay As You Go meters?
    12. Who do I contact if my bills do not              •• Details of the length of time you have to
    contain the minimum requirements                        cancel if you change your mind about
    requested by EU legislation?                            switching (cooling off period) and who you
    You should contact your supplier in the first           should contact to cancel during this period.
    instance. If you need any further information           (No cancellation charge will apply if the
    contact The Consumer Council at 0800 121                cancellation is requested during this period).
    6022 or the Utility Regulator at 028 9031            •• Do you have to read your own meter and if so
    1575 for advice and information.                        are there any penalties for not reading it in
                                                            time?
    13. Where can I obtain information on                •• Does the offer require you to manage your
    my actual consumption over a given                      account online?
    period: a year or a month?                           •• Domestic customers should ask how you can
    If you pay by standard credit in arrears, or by         pay. Is there discount or any additional charge
    monthly/quarterly direct debit you will find            if you choose to pay:
    information about your electricity or gas use on            •• by standard credit in arrears?,
    your bill.                                                  •• by prepayment/Pay As You Go meter?
    If you have a prepayment/Pay As You Go                      •• by direct debit?
    meter you can obtain this information directly       •• What additional services can you offer? For
    from your meter. Your supplier’s Code of                example, where I need help in specific
    Practice on Prepayment Services will explain            circumstances or require adjustments for my
    how to do this.                                         needs.
                                                         •• What range of methods is available for buying
    Prepayment/Pay as you Go meter customers                credit for prepayment/Pay As You Go
    will also receive an annual statement which will        meters?
    tell you the amount of electricity or gas you        •• Where can I buy credit for prepayment/Pay
    have used over the year. If you have any                As You Go meters?
    difficulty, you can contact your supplier and        •• Ask for a copy of the contract or Terms and
    request this information.                               Conditions which will specify your unit rate.
                                                            Always read and make sure you understand
    14. What information should I ask a
                                                            the small print before signing an agreement.
    potential supplier before entering a
                                                         •• Is there a standing charge that all customers
    contract?                                               must pay regardless of how much gas or
    •• What is the best tariff they can offer for your      electricity they use?
       circumstances? (It will help if you provide the   •• Is there a minimum charge which all
       name of your current tariff and how much you         customers have to pay even if you use very
       have spent on electricity over the past 12           little gas or electricity?
       months).                                          •• Any other charges that may apply.
    •• Are you ‘locked-in’ to this product for a fixed
       period? How much will it cost to end the          ••
       contract before this time?
                                                         ••

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 9                                                 13/06/2018 11:39
A leaflet18 has been produced regarding                          Domestic customers have up to 10 working
    switching suppliers, which can be found on the                   days to change their mind after signing the
    Utility Regulator website19, or on The Consumer                  contract, this is known as the cooling off period.
    Council website20.
                                                                     If you lose your contract you can request a
    15. How can I obtain access to complete                          copy from your supplier. Suppliers will also have
    and comprehensible information on                                a full set of Terms and Conditions on their
    supply offers?                                                   websites.
    All suppliers provide information on domestic                    17. What are the general rules for
    tariffs on their websites. Business customers
                                                                     cancelling my contract? In particular,
    should contact suppliers directly for available
                                                                     when:
    tariffs or available products.
                                                                     − moving to a new address?
    The Consumer Council also provides                               − letting my apartment / house to
    information on their website, including an                          somebody else?
    energy information leaflet, Switch On and, for                   − switching to another supplier?
    domestic consumers, an independent online                        Please refer to Question 19 for a combined
    energy price comparison tool.                                    answer.
    16. Once a contract is in force, how do I                        18. Where can I find out about my
    access full information on its complete                          supplier's own conditions for
    contents including all standard terms                            cancellation?
    and conditions?                                                  Please refer to Question 19 for a combined
    Your supplier must give you a copy of the Terms                  answer.
    and Conditions of your contract. It is important
    to take the time to carefully read through these                 19. Do I have the right to cancel my
    before signing. Ask the supplier to give you                     contract if
    more time, if you need it, to do this. Also, your                − the price changes?
    supplier must highlight the following information                − I am moving to other premises?
    before you sign up to a new contract:                            As a domestic consumer, you will usually have
    •• The charges for your energy supply.                           an ongoing contract (known as an ‘evergreen’
    •• If you need to use a prepayment/Pay As                        contract) under which you will continue to
       You Go meter.                                                 receive your energy supply.
    •• Any requirement for a security deposit                        If you are considering cancelling your contract,
       (Domestic customers only).                                    for any of the above reasons, it is important to
    •• The duration of the contract.                                 take time to carefully read the terms and
    •• Your rights to end the contract, including any                conditions within your contract, as these will
       obligation to pay a termination fee, or the                   provide details of the different requirements
       circumstances in which it will end.                           your supplier will have if you wish to cancel.
    •• Any other term that may reasonably be                         This may involve a set period of notice you
       considered to significantly affect the                        need to give your supplier, or possible charges
       evaluation of the contract by the customer.                   for leaving a fixed term contract before it
    The supplier should give you a copy of your                      expires, for example.
    contract after you have signed it; keep it in a                  Customers on a fixed term contract, with a
    safe place as you might want to read it again.                   promotional offer, for example, need to be

    18
         https://www.uregni.gov.uk/sites/uregni/files/media-files/2017%20Switching%20Leaflet.pdf
    19
          https://www.uregni.gov.uk/
    20
          http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/publications/ulitity-regulator-find-out-how-to-switch/

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 10                                                           13/06/2018 11:39
aware that the supplier is under no obligation to      further bills for your old address. It is important
    provide those same terms and conditions if             to ensure that you tell your supplier you are
    they leave the contract before it expires.             moving address as, if you do not inform them,
                                                           you may still be considered responsible for
    In the case of a price change for domestic
                                                           energy use at your old address and receive bills
    consumers, your electricity or gas supplier must
                                                           for this, even if you have moved out.
    give you at least 21 days advanced notice of
    any proposed changes, and include that you             Prepayment/Pay As You Go meter
    have the right to cancel the contract, and how         Customers
    to do this.                                            If you are a prepayment/Pay as You Go meter
                                                           customer considering moving home, it is
    If you do not have a copy of your contract, look
                                                           important to ensure you use any credit you may
    for the Terms and Conditions on your supplier’s
                                                           have in your meter before you move, as this will
    website, or contact them directly.
                                                           not be refunded to you. It is also important that
    Prepayment/Pay As You Go meter                         if you are moving home, and are currently
    customers                                              repaying debt to a supplier that you arrange
    If you are a Prepayment/Pay As You Go                  with them how this will be paid back.
    customer and you move home, make sure to
                                                           If you are a prepayment/Pay As You Go meter
    inform the supplier of your new property;
                                                           customer and switch suppliers, you will keep
    otherwise you may be paying debt of a previous
                                                           any credit within your meter, and this will
    resident.
                                                           transfer with you to any new supplier.
    Please refer to Question 20 for the answer
    relating to moving to other premises.
                                                           21. What complaint handling mechanism
                                                           has my supplier set up? What are the
    If you need any further advice, contact                dispute resolution procedures in my
    The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022.                 area? To whom can I address myself for
    20. I have moved / switched to a new                   assistance without cost?
    supplier. Do I still have to pay my bills              Your supplier is required to develop a Code of
    for my old address / coming from my                    Practice detailing its complaints procedure, in
                                                           which complaints are intended to be processed
    former supplier?
                                                           and resolved within three months. The Code
    Switching
                                                           must be advertised on your supplier’s website
    Your new supplier will normally inform the old
                                                           and marketing materials. Details of how to
    supplier that you have switched. After switching
                                                           complain must be on your bill. You can also ask
    supplier you will receive a final bill from your old
                                                           your supplier for a copy, free of charge.
    supplier covering the energy you used between
    your previous bill and the day you switched to         If you cannot resolve your complaint with your
    the new supplier, plus any outstanding previous        supplier, you can contact The Consumer
    charges. This bill will be sent to you within 6        Council who may be able to help you resolve
    weeks of changing supplier, which you are              the complaint. In some cases, the Utility
    obliged to pay. Equally, if you were in credit, any    Regulator can resolve the complaint where The
    money due from your supplier will be sent to           Consumer Council is unable to do so.
    you within 6 weeks.
                                                           22. Is there a minimum level of supply
    Moving                                                 quality? Am I entitled to compensation
    If you are moving you need to inform your              if the predetermined quality of supply is
    supplier and give them the moving date, a
                                                           not met?
    closing meter read and your new address. You
                                                           As stated in question 2, energy companies have
    will receive a final bill for your old address.
                                                           conditions within their licence, relating to the
    Once this has been paid you should receive no
                                                           minimum levels of service you should receive.

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 11                                                  13/06/2018 11:39
The Guaranteed Standards of Service (GSS)             Contact your supplier in the first instance. If you
    set out specific levels of service which              are still unhappy contact The Consumer Council
    individual consumers can expect from their            on 0800 121 6022 as a first step for advice.
    energy companies. If they fail to meet the
    appropriate standard you may be entitled to
    receive a fixed financial amount. Currently, this     Section 3:
    scheme applies to all gas companies (network
    operators and suppliers) as well as NIE
                                                          Prices, Tariffs and
    Networks.
                                                          Monitoring
    The details of the GSS scheme for NIE
    Networks and all gas companies are available          25. How can I distinguish between price,
    on their individual websites. The scheme covers       charge and tariff on my bill?
    problems like an interruption to your supply.         Your bill must contain clear and full information
                                                          of the total cost you will be charged to ensure it
    It is important to note, in both gas and              is easy to compare to other energy suppliers.
    electricity, regardless of your chosen supplier,
    the quality of your supply will be the same.          The following must be included:

    23. What steps must a supplier take first             •• The price – this is the amount you pay for
                                                             your energy, which must be displayed in
    before disconnecting me from supply
                                                             pence per kWh.
    for an unpaid bill?                                   •• Additional Charges - this is any additional
    If you are having payment difficulties contact
                                                             cost, such as a ‘standing charge’ (as explained
    your supplier as soon as possible.
                                                             in question 4).
    If you are a domestic customer your supplier          •• Tariff – this is the pricing system you are
    must:                                                    currently on with your chosen supplier.
    •• Work with you to produce a realistic payment       26. What information should I receive
       plan which takes account of your ability to pay;   from my supplier on his charging
    •• Offer you a prepayment/Pay as You Go meter         system?
       to help you budget for electricity or gas:         Your bill should clearly show you the units of
    •• If you already have a prepayment/Pay As You        energy used, the price you are charged per unit,
       Go meter, take steps to help you avoid             and standing charges where applicable. Any
       self-disconnection.                                levies or taxes (such as VAT) must also be
    Your supplier can also offer you advice on using      clearly set out.
    gas or electricity more efficiently to help you       Suppliers must also identify the details of any
    reduce your bills.                                    discount or premium that is being applied to a
    If you feel you are struggling to make ends           charging system compared to their standard
    meet and need help, contact a money advisor           tariff and the length of the discount period.
    at one of the following organisations:                27. What are the rules on the calculation
    DebtAdviceNI: Freephone 0800 043 0550                 method to be applied by my supplier?
    Advice NI: 028 9064 5919                              Suppliers must clearly demonstrate on the bill
    Citizens Advice: 028 9023 1120                        all charges that lead to the total bill amount.
    StepChange : Freephone 0800 138 1111                  You should contact your supplier should you
                                                          require further clarification of the charges
    24. What steps should I take if I think               included on your bill.
    that one of my contract terms has been
                                                          The Consumer Council will also provide you
    changed without adequate notice? Who
                                                          with free and independent advice, on
    should I contact?
                                                          0800 121 6022.

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 12                                                 13/06/2018 11:39
28. Will I be asked for deposits and                              30. Where can I access an electronic
    connection charges? How can I find out                            price calculator?
    more about them?                                                  Please refer to Question 32 for a combined
    Some suppliers may ask for a security deposit,                    answer.
    depending on your individual circumstances.
                                                                      31. Where do I find a tool helping me to
    These must be detailed in your contract. If a
    security deposit is required for a domestic                       compare different supply offers?
    customer it must not exceed the average three                     Please refer to Question 32 for a combined
    month use for electricity or gas customers.                       answer.
    The security deposit must be returned to the                      32. Is there a recent price monitor
    customer after one year if payments are                           published for my area?
    up to date21.                                                     The Consumer Council has an energy price
    Details of electricity connection charges,                        comparison tool22 on their website. Domestic
    which are payable to NIE Networks                                 consumers can use this tool to compare
    (the network operator) are available at:                          electricity and gas prices for every supplier in
    http://www.nienetworks.co.uk                                      Northern Ireland, in order to get the best deal.

    Details of how you can obtain a connection to                     33. What payment options are open
    the natural gas network, and associated                           to me?
    charges that may be payable to the network                        Business customers of gas and electricity
    operator, can be found at                                         should contact their supplier directly for
    http://www.firmusenergy.co.uk and                                 information.
    http://www.phoenixnaturalgas.com and
                                                                      Domestic customers
    https://www.sgn.co.uk/
                                                                      All electricity and gas suppliers must offer a
    29. How can I distinguish offers? Can I                           range of payment methods, with at least the
    get information on energy prices per                              following three methods for domestic
    unit, taking account of parameters for                            customers to choose from:-
    the calculation of process and possible                           •• standard credit in arrears,
                                                                      •• direct debit, and
    indexation mechanisms applying to the
                                                                      •• prepayment/Pay As You Go meter.*
    full contract period?
    It is important when examining offers to                          *No additional charge is applied for the
    compare like with like. Question 4 on page 4                      installation of a prepayment/Pay As You Go
    provides further information on the detail you                    meter. Your energy supplier will provide you
    would require to compare offers.                                  with more information on your choices.
    Ensure that any standing or additional charges                    There may, however, be a charge applied to
    are taken into account when assessing the                         change from prepayment/Pay As You Go meter
    overall cost of the contract. Suppliers must                      to another form of payment. Check this with
    show their tariffs in pence per kWh. This                         your supplier.
    ensures that customers are provided with clear
                                                                      Some suppliers offer other ways to pay. Ask
    and full information which is easy to compare to
                                                                      your supplier, or a supplier you are considering
    other energy suppliers.
                                                                      switching to, to see what options they offer.
    The Consumer Council also provides
    information on their website.

    21
        s per electricity and gas supply licence conditions (27A and 2.22 respectively), any security deposit given by a domestic
       A
       customer shall be repaid within 28 days, where, in the previous 12 months, they have paid all charges for the supply of gas
       or electricity demanded from them within 28 days of each written demand made.
    22
       http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/energy/electricity-gas-price-comparison/

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 13                                                                      13/06/2018 11:39
34. Is there a system of regulated prices                          an annual update on your energy use. If you
    or other forms of price control applied                            have been with your supplier for less than a
    in my area? Do I have the right to                                 year you will only receive a figure for part of
    receive energy at a price fixed by a                               the year.
    national authority?                                                37. When and how is my consumption
    In electricity, Power NI tariffs for domestic                      meter read?
    customers are regulated by the Utility                             Electricity
    Regulator, as they have the largest market                         NIE Networks is responsible for reading your
    share of the domestic market. A briefing23                         electricity meter, including ‘prepayment/Pay As
    about the latest tariff review has been                            You Go meters’, regardless of which supplier
    published on the Utility Regulator website.                        you choose. Meters are usually read every 3
    In gas, the prices of SSE Airtricity Gas Supply                    months. They will pass on your meter reading to
    Limited and firmus energy (Supply) Ltd are also                    your supplier so the supplier can send you a bill.
    regulated by the Utility Regulator as they both                    Switching supplier will not affect your meter
    have the largest domestic market share in the                      reading cycle.
    areas in which they operate. Details are on their                  If you are out when NIE Networks calls to read
    website at: www.airtricitygasni.com and www.                       your meter you can read your meter yourself
    firmusenergy.co.uk                                                 and telephone them on 08456 093030, email
    35. Whom do I have to contact in order                             at meter.reading@nie.co.uk or through the
    to be provided with a consumption                                  website: http://www.nie.co.uk
    meter? Do I have a choice in the type of                           Gas
    meter I can have / can acquire?                                    Each gas supply company is responsible for
    NIE Networks (the network operator) is                             meter reading.
    responsible for electricity metering in Northern
    Ireland; you can contact them on 03457 643                         Depending on the payment method that you
    643.                                                               choose, the supplier may offer a discount on your
                                                                       bill, for example, for online billing and/or self
    To find out if your property can get connected                     reads. Contact individual suppliers for details.
    to the natural gas network contact your
    network operator (full details are provided at                     If there is no meter reading available your next
    question 9). If natural gas is available in your                   bill will use an estimated meter reading. This
    area, your network operator will be able to                        will be based on your previous pattern of
    discuss the connection arrangements.                               energy use. If this is the case, take an actual
                                                                       meter reading and provide it to your supplier so
    If you are already a gas customer looking to                       they can produce a more accurate bill. This will
    discuss your current meter, contact your                           be marked as an estimated read on your bill.
    supplier. You will be supplied with a meter
    appropriate to the payment method agreed with                      38. Am I exposed to increasing energy
    your supplier.                                                     prices during a given contract period?
                                                                       Are there public measures reducing the
    36. Is there a maximum period specified,                           risk to be confronted with significant
    over which my supplier has to provide                              price increases during my contract
    me with information on my actual                                   duration?
    consumption of gas and / or electricity?                           This depends on your contract. Some contracts
    Suppliers must give all customers, including                       will allow for variations in price – although the
    prepayment/Pay As You Go meter customers,                          contract should say when you will be informed

    23
         https://www.uregni.gov.uk/sites/uregni/files/media-files/Electricity%20Tariff%20Briefing%20Paper%20-%20August%202017.pdf

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 14                                                                     13/06/2018 11:39
of price changes and state where you can get                   to cancel. This may involve a set period of
    up to date information on prices.                              notice you need to give your supplier, or
                                                                   possible charges for leaving a fixed term
    Other contracts are fixed-term, where you
                                                                   contract before it expires, for example.
    agree to pay a particular price for a specific
    fixed period. This is regardless of whether there              If you decide to switch, contact your chosen
    is any increase or decrease to the standard                    supplier - they will explain what details they
    price. Check with your supplier before you sign                require for you to switch to them. You will
    a contract if the price is fixed, if so, how long it           normally need your name, address, meter
    is fixed for and what penalty there is if you                  number and meter reading.
    want to terminate the contract earlier than the
                                                                   The Consumer Council’s Switch On24 leaflet
    fixed term.
                                                                   provides information on energy contracts and
    39. What is the legal procedure before a                       switching. You can download a copy or call
    supplier can change the supply price?                          0800 121 6262 for a free copy or advice.
    All suppliers must give domestic consumers at
                                                                   42. What are the minimum general
    least 21 days advanced notice of any proposed
                                                                   conditions for cancellation in case of
    change to contracts including a change of price.
                                                                   switching?
    They must also inform you of your right to                     As stated in question 17 on page 16, you
    terminate the contract you have with them and                  should check the Terms and Conditions of your
    the procedure for doing so.                                    contract or contact your supplier for advice.
    For customers on a fixed term contract, you must               43. I found a more interesting offer for
    be informed at least 28 days, but no longer than               energy supply and have decided to
    42 days, in advance of the expiry date of that                 switch. Who takes care of the
    fixed term period, and the details of the standard
                                                                   paperwork?
    ‘evergreen’ tariff to which you will revert.
                                                                   Contact the new supplier; they will start the
                                                                   switching process and deal with the paperwork.
    Section 4:                                                     Domestic consumers have 10 working days
                                                                   cooling off period when they can cancel the
    Free Choice of Supplier                                        switch. The switch should be completed within
                                                                   15 working days after the end of the cooling
    40. Who are the active suppliers in                            off period.
    my area?
    Contact details for all electricity and gas                    44. When switching supplier, is there a
    suppliers and network operators can be found                   risk of disconnection?
    on the Utility Regulator’s website, or you can                 No. There will be no interruption to your supply
    contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121                       because you switch. Nor will there be any
    6022.                                                          changes to your meter, your wiring, your pipe
                                                                   work or connection. For electricity customers
    41. How do I cancel my contract and                            there will be no change to how and when your
    switch to a new supplier?                                      meter is read. For gas customers, your meter
    If you are considering cancelling your contract                will be read by your new supplier.
    it is important to take time to carefully read the
    terms and conditions within your contract, as                  45. What reasons may exist that would
    these will provide details of the different                    stop me switching supplier?
    requirements your supplier will have if you wish               If you are a domestic customer there are
                                                                   generally no reasons that would stop you

    24
         h
          ttp://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/filestore/documents/38978_CC_Switch_on_Electricity_and_Gas.pdf

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 15                                                          13/06/2018 11:39
switching supplier. However, if you are in debt,       From 28th March 2018, once you receive a
    there may be some limitations. Contact the             connection offer, you will then have a choice of
    supplier you wish to switch to, in order to discuss.   who designs and builds your connection. You
                                                           can find out more at http://www.nie.co.uk
    46. Are there situations that would
    prevent me from switching to a new                     Natural Gas
    supplier without penalties?                            To check if gas is available in your area contact
    Your supplier cannot penalise you for switching        the relevant network operator in your area (see
    unless your contract states, within the terms          map on page 10) – firmus energy (Distribution)
    and conditions, that there is a penalty for            Ltd (from the North West through the Central
    cancelling your contract early. It is therefore        region to the Southern areas of Northern
    important to carefully read the terms and              Ireland), Phoenix Natural Gas (mainly the
    conditions before signing any contract.                Greater Belfast, East Down and Larne areas),
                                                           or SGN Natural Gas (Distribution) Ltd in the
    47. How much will it cost me to change                 West of Northern Ireland. New areas are being
    supplier?                                              connected to a gas supply on a regular basis,
    There is no charge for switching supplier,             details can be found by contacting the network
    however some contracts include a cancellation          operators as follows:-
    charge. This will be detailed in your terms and
    conditions, which you should read carefully            •• http://www.firmusenergy.co.uk or telephone
    before signing.                                           0800 032 4567, or
                                                           •• http://www.phoenixnaturalgas.com or
    48. What is the maximum duration a                        telephone 03454 55 55 55, or
    supplier is able to tie a consumer for                 •• https://www.sgn.co.uk/ or telephone
    contractually?                                            0800 912 1700
    The length of a contract is at the discretion of       If natural gas is available to your property, the
    each supplier, there is no maximum period              relevant network operator will provide further
    specified.                                             information on the connection process and
    49. Who should I contact if I think that I             available suppliers.
    have been unfairly charged to change                   51. Do I have to sign a contract and who
    supplier?                                              do I sign a contract with?
    Contact the supplier who charged you first; if         You will have to sign an application for a
    the supplier does not deal with your complaint         connection with the relevant network operator
    to your satisfaction then contact The Consumer         in your area (full details are provided in
    Council who may be able to assist you in               question 9). This is a contract for the
    resolving the issue.                                   connection, not for the supply of gas or
                                                           electricity.
    SECTION 5:                                             For electricity, you will also enter into a contract
                                                           with your chosen supplier.
    Connection to Network
                                                           For new domestic gas connections, you will
    50. Who do I contact to be supplied with               initially be allocated a supplier for a minimum of
    energy for the first time?                             15 working days. After your supply begins you
    Electricity                                            have the choice to switch supplier, where other
    To get a new electricity connection contact NIE        suppliers are available.
    Networks (the network operator) and complete
                                                           You will not necessarily sign your name to a
    an application form. You can find this on their
                                                           written contract. For example, you may switch
    website at www.nienetworks.co.uk or contact
                                                           supplier online or on the telephone. In doing
    them on 03457 643643 to request a form.

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 16                                                   13/06/2018 11:39
this, you and your supplier will be agreeing the     relevant network operator (as detailed in
    Terms and Conditions of the contract. The            question 52).
    Terms and Conditions of the contract will be
    available to you on the supplier's website or will   55. Who is my contact in the event of
    be sent to you by the supplier on request.           disruption of energy supplies? Who
                                                         should I contact if I have another
    52. How do I find out who my supplier is?            technical question concerning my
    The information should be contained on your          energy supply?
    bill or statement, however if you are unsure you     If your electricity supply is interrupted, you
    can contact the network operator as follows:         should contact NIE Networks, the network
    Electricity                                          operator, to inform them of the fault –
    Contact NIE Networks on 03457 643 643 or             03457 643 643
    customercontact@nienetworks.co.uk                    If your gas supply is interrupted, you should
    Natural Gas                                          contact your supplier.
    Contact the network operator in your area (see       If you smell gas, you must contact the 24-hour
    map on page 10):-                                    Gas Emergency Service on 0800 002 001.
    •• Firmus energy (Distribution) Ltd at http://
       www.firmusenergy.co.uk or telephone 0800          56. Who is liable for damages that occur
       032 4567, or                                      in my household due to disruption
    •• Phoenix Natural Gas Ltd at http://www.            of service?
       phoenixnaturalgas.com or telephone                If either the network operator or your supplier
       03454 55 55 55, or                                has been negligent they may be liable for
    •• SGN Natural Gas (Distribution) at https://        damage.
       www.sgn.co.uk or telephone 0800 912 1700.
                                                         Your home insurance may cover costs incurred
    53. I do not have a formal supply                    by an interruption in supply.
    contract or even a valid offer for energy            Contact your supplier first; if the supplier does
    supply. Which supplier is obliged to                 not deal with it to your satisfaction then contact
    provide me with energy against payment               The Consumer Council who may be able to
    with or without a formal contract? Who               assist you in resolving the issue.
    is my default supplier?                              Call them on 0800 121 6022 or email at
    For domestic customers, if your property is          complaints@consumercouncil.org.uk
    already connected to the relevant electricity or
    gas network, all suppliers available in your area
                                                         57. If I happen to encounter temporary
    must offer to enter into a contract with you,        financial difficulties, how can I avoid
    provided you are willing to accept their relevant    being cut off from the basic energy
    Terms and Conditions.                                supply that is vital for my household’s
                                                         heating and cooking needs?
    If you do not currently have a connection            Contact your supplier as soon as you realise
    please contact the network operator as detailed      you might find it difficult to pay your bill. Each
    in question 52 above.                                supplier must have a Code of Practice for
    54. Do I have to sign a contract to be               dealing with customers who are having
    physically connected to an energy                    difficulty paying bills. These are available by
    distribution network and with whom?                  contacting your supplier.
    Yes. For electricity the property owner will have    Your supplier must help you work out a realistic
    to sign an application with NIE Networks (the        payment schedule. If you cannot keep to this
    network operator). For natural gas the property      schedule your supplier may offer you a pay as
    owner will have to sign an application with the      you go meter, you should also check which

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 17                                                 13/06/2018 11:39
discounts are available to you.                       If the crisis is national then, depending on its
                                                          nature, the Department for the Economy will
    If you feel you are struggling to make ends
                                                          ensure the local media is kept informed.
    meet and need help, contact a money advisor
    at one of the following organisations:                The NIE Networks Critical Care Register is a
                                                          list of those consumers who are dependent on
    DebtAdviceNI: Freephone 0800 043 0550
                                                          life supporting electrical equipment. These
    Advice NI: 028 9064 5919
                                                          consumers are given priority, as regards to the
    Citizens Advice: 028 9023 1120
                                                          provision of information, during planned or
    StepChange : Freephone 0800 138 1111
                                                          unplanned interruptions to supply. You can find
    58. What happens if my supplier goes                  out more about the register on their website, or
    out of business? Who is my supplier of                call 03457 643 643.
    last resort?                                          Your electricity and gas supplier will also
    Electricity                                           provide information on their website.
    In electricity, if your supplier goes out of
    business you will automatically become a
    customer with Power NI, as Power NI is, what is       Section 6:
    referred to as, the Supplier of Last Resort
    [SOLR] for Northern Ireland. The SOLR must            Complaint Handling
    offer you a tariff that is appropriate for your       60. Where can I find out more about my
    needs but you are free to choose any offer            supplier’s complaint procedure?
    from any other supplier after 20 working days;        As explained in question 2 on page 2, the
    the SOLR arrangements are in place to ensure          electricity and gas supply companies are
    you have a continuous supply.                         required to have in place their own Code of
    Gas                                                   Practice with regard handling complaints. These
    Similar arrangements are being put in place for       are available on each supplier’s website, no
    gas, to identify the gas SOLR, to ensure you          more than two clicks from their homepage.
    have a continuous supply of gas should a              They will also provide details on how to access
    supplier go out of business. Gas customers can        their complaints procedure on bills and
    contact The Consumer Council to find out who          marketing materials.
    the SOLR is in their gas network area.
                                                          Suppliers must resolve your complaint within
    59. In the case of a national, regional or            three months. If you have followed their
    local crisis or other incidents seriously             complaints process and remain dissatisfied
    affecting the supply of energy where                  The Consumer Council can assist with your
    can I get information regarding                       complaint. Call them on 0800 121 6022 or
    emergency measures?                                   email contact@consumercouncil.org.uk
    For electricity, information will be available from   61. Does my supplier make use of an
    NIE Networks (the electricity network operator)
                                                          ombudsman?
    on their website, or by calling 03457 643 643.
                                                          There is currently no energy ombudsman
    For gas, information will be available from your      scheme in Northern Ireland. Suppliers must
    network operator on their website, or by calling      resolve your complaint within three months. If
    them (full details provided in question 52).          you have followed the complaints procedure
                                                          and remain dissatisfied The Consumer Council
    If you smell gas, you must contact the 24-hour
                                                          can assist with your complaint.
    Gas Emergency Service on 0800 002 001.

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 18                                                 13/06/2018 11:39
In certain cases, the Utility Regulator may be                  of consumers about natural gas and electricity.
    able to resolve complaints where The                            For further information phone 0800 121 6022
    Consumer Council is unable to reach a                           or see their website26.
    satisfactory resolution.
                                                                    65. There is no competitive offer in my
    62. I need support to settle a dispute                          area and only one supplier. Who should
    with my supplier or network operator.                           I talk to about ways to promote
    From which neutral and independent                              competition?
    national body can I request assistance                          The Utility Regulator has worked hard to
    at no cost in case of such a dispute?                           encourage competition in both the domestic
    If you have followed your supplier/network                      electricity and gas markets. A number of new
    operator’s complaints procedure and are                         suppliers have already entered the energy
    dissatisfied with the outcome The Consumer                      market and the Utility Regulator will continue to
    Council can assist you in resolving your                        promote competition to ensure choice for
    complaints.                                                     consumers.

    63. What are the local measures to                              66. Which public body is responsible
    protect consumers of electricity and                            for promoting fair and effective
    gas? Who can I contact to find out more                         competition?
    about them?                                                     The Utility Regulator is responsible for
    Question 2 on page 2 provides information on                    promoting competition; its Corporate Plan27
    your rights as an energy customer. For                          outlines its duties and how it achieves them,
    independent advice on your rights and more                      identifying strategic themes and priorities.
    information on a particular issue, please contact               The Forward Work Plan28 outlines what it will
    The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022.                          do each year. Both these documents are
                                                                    publicly consulted upon in order to listen to the
    Section 7:                                                      views of its stakeholders including the
                                                                    electricity and gas industries and consumer and
    Consumer                                                        political representatives.

    Representation                                                  The Annual Report29 outlines what it has
                                                                    achieved over the year.
    64. Who is responsible for the protection
    of consumers in my area? What actions
    are currently underway by these
                                                                    Section 8:
    organisations to protect consumers?                             Social Measures
    The Utility Regulator has a duty to protect
    customers, for full information on the Utility                  67. What will happen once I have not
    Regulator’s work see its website25.                             reacted to a payment notice?
                                                                    Your supplier will contact you to notify you that
    The Consumer Council has a responsibility to                    your bill is overdue. If you have not settled your
    represent energy consumers in Northern                          bill you should contact your supplier as soon as
    Ireland and has a dedicated team which                          possible to discuss and agree an appropriate
    investigates enquiries and complaints on behalf                 payment arrangement. To default on payment

    25
       http://www.uregni.gov.uk
    26
        http://www.consumercouncil.org.uk
    27
       https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/corporate-strategy-2014-2019
    28
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/20162017-forward-work-programme
    29
        https://www.uregni.gov.uk/publications/utility-regulator-annual-report-2015-2016

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 19                                                           13/06/2018 11:39
without contacting your supplier may affect your                       The level and type of services available
    credit rating and this may result in disconnection                     depends upon your circumstances. For
    from your supply or the installation of a                              example, additional services may be offered if
    prepayment/ Pay As You Go meter.                                       any of the following apply to you:
    For further information check your supplier’s                          •• of pensionable age
    Code of Practice on payment of bills.                                  •• chronically sick
                                                                           •• disabled
    68. How can I avoid disconnection if I                                 •• on low income; or
    cannot pay my bill?                                                    •• live in a rural area (electricity consumers).
    Contact your supplier as soon as you realise
    you might find it difficult to pay your bill. Each                     NIE Networks Ltd have a Critical Care
    supplier must have a Code of Practice for                              Register30 which provides additional services
    dealing with customers who are having                                  for customers who are dependent on life
    difficulty paying bills.                                               supporting electrical equipment.

    Your supplier must help you work out a realistic                       Electricity and gas suppliers in Northern Ireland
    payment schedule. If you cannot keep to this                           maintain customer care registers and offer a
    schedule your supplier may offer you a Pay As                          range of free additional services for those
    You Go meter. You may also wish to seek                                customers mentioned in the list above.
    independent advice on dealing with debt.                               To find out more about these services contact
    If you feel you are struggling to make ends                            your supplier.
    meet and need help, contact a money advisor                            If your supplier is unable to help, you should
    at one of the following organisations:                                 contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121
    DebtAdviceNI: Freephone 0800 043 0550                                  6022 or contact@consumercouncil.org.uk
    Advice NI: 028 9064 5919
                                                                           71. What support and protection are
    Citizens Advice: 028 9023 1120
                                                                           available for consumers in delicate
    StepChange : Freephone 0800 138 1111
                                                                           financial situations in my area?
    The Consumer Council has produced a budget                             You may be able to get additional financial and
    planner to help consumers manage their                                 / or energy efficiency help depending on your
    money. You can download a copy of this budget                          circumstances. The Utility Regulator would
    planner at www.consumercouncil.org.uk.                                 advise you to seek assistance from an advice
                                                                           centre or consumer organisation relevant to
    69. What do I do if I am disconnected?
                                                                           your circumstances or alternatively, contact your
    Please contact your electricity or gas supplier.
                                                                           supplier who will tell you about other sources of
    The advice organisations listed in question 68
                                                                           help and assistance.
    on page 37 can also help.
                                                                           If you feel you are struggling to make ends
    70. Is there a definition of vulnerable                                meet and need help, contact a money advisor
    consumers applied in my area? What                                     at one of the following organisations:
    criteria do I have to fulfil to be
    considered as an aid worthy (vulnerable)                               DebtAdviceNI: Freephone 0800 043 0550
                                                                           Advice NI: 028 9064 5919
    consumer?
                                                                           Citizens Advice: 028 9023 1120
    If, due to vulnerability, you need any help to
                                                                           StepChange: Freephone 0800 138 1111
    access the full services available from your
    electricity or gas supplier you should first                           The Consumer Council has produced a budget
    contact your supplier.                                                 planner to help consumers manage their

    30
         http://www.nienetworks.co.uk/help-advice/Vulnerable-customers/Critical-care-register

2541_NI_CONSUMER_CHECKLIST_A5_ECCEINI0418_V4.indd 20                                                                   13/06/2018 11:39
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