Coronavirus: How we're supporting customers and staff

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Like many other organisations, we've changed the way we work during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you can, please use your online account or our app to manage your energy with us. If your query is urgent and you do need to speak to us, it may take us longer to get to your call. You can find out more here about your account, meter readings and how we're working right now.

27 April 2020

We’ve put together a set of questions and answers showing you how Bristol Energy is responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its impact on our customers and staff.

The Coronavirus pandemic is understandably causing widespread concern.

This is a unique and challenging period for individuals and businesses, and we want to reassure you that we are prepared to support our customers throughout the period.

We’ve put together a set of questions and answers showing you how Bristol Energy is responding to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on our customers and staff:

We are working hard to support our most vulnerable customers right now. To help us meet their needs, please use your online portal to contact us and to manage your energy whenever you can.

Residential customers

Are your customer service teams still available?

Yes – we are still available, we’ve just changed the way we’re working, in response to government guidelines.

Our Temple Street office is currently closed, including the Bristol Energy Hub, and we’re all working remotely to help keep our staff, and our customers, safe and well.

You’ll still receive your bills and any relevant communications in your chosen format (by post and/or email).

If possible, please get in touch with us via email, our website or social media channels (search Bristol Energy) so we can keep our phone lines free for vulnerable customers or emergency calls. Visit our Contact Us page for full details.

Vulnerable customers

Bristol Energy normally reads my meter – will this stop?

Yes – to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, our agents are now only undertaking emergency meter works, including maintenance or replacement of faulty meters. In these cases, in addition to the hygiene advice that we are giving our employees (e.g. washing hands regularly) we are introducing a number of additional steps to provide protection against the spread of the infection. An example of this is keeping a minimum of two metres from the customer at all times.

We encourage customers to submit their own meter readings if possible, via our app, by logging into the portal or by email. If you’d like some support with reading your meter and submitting reading online, please visit our Information Page.

How is Bristol Energy helping pre-payment customers?

We’re working to ensure vulnerable people do not get cut off amid the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. We are encouraging pre-payment customers to top up their accounts where possible through digital channels, online, or SMS. Visit our Services for Pre-payment Customers page for more information.

I am on a pre-payment meter but in self-isolation so can’t top up, what should I do?

If possible, we recommend asking a neighbour, family member or friend to top up on your behalf if you are self-isolating. Ofgem have advised customers to leave top up cards in outside meter boxes where possible. Our third parties including SMS are still visiting properties where field engineers are required.

I am no longer working as a result of the Coronavirus and may not be able to pay my bill – can you help?

We are awaiting further advice from the government on the detailed schemes to offer assistance through this period, however we suggest making minimum payments (where possible) and seek further debt advice as soon as possible. Please let us know if you’re having problems paying your bill as soon as possible using our online contact methods.

B2B customers

We understand the impact the Coronavirus pandemic is currently having on businesses. We’re all adapting to a very challenging time and with many companies now closed in response to government restrictions, we want all our customers to know Bristol Energy is on-hand to help.

I’m concerned about my energy supply, how is Coronavirus affecting Bristol Energy?

As with all businesses globally, the impact of Coronavirus has touched Bristol Energy. We have moved our operation to be entirely home-based and continue to run business as normally as possible.

Whilst we have seen some impact on our customer service delivery, as things take a little longer than usual, we are pleased to report that our teams are working well in new circumstances. We will continue to support and serve our business customers and are on-hand if you need to speak with us, just as we were before.

What can Bristol Energy offer to ease the situation for businesses that are currently closed?

We understand that this is a difficult time for your business and our team are on-hand to discuss your account. We are open as usual Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm (excluding Bank Holidays). Please call us on 0808 168 3888 and let us know about how the current situation is affecting your business and we will try our best to support you through the next few months.

I have been billed to estimated meter reads, they are not accurate as my business is closed and I am unable to obtain a meter reading due to self-isolation.

We are encouraging our customers to provide a meter reading as soon as they can access the property and if it is safe to do so. We understand that your bill may be estimated, but we can re-bill and refund you as soon as an actual reading is applied to your account. 

In the meantime, if you are worried about further invoices being estimated, give our team a call on 0808 168 3888 and we can access your account to explore further solutions.

I need to cancel my Direct Debit in order to prioritise my funds - is this ok?

We don’t recommend this. We are aware that cancelling a Direct Debit may seem the easiest way to avoid paying your energy bill. However, it is likely you would slip into our collections process and receive payment reminders weekly and be at risk of further collection action.

Instead, give us a call and we can look at pausing your next energy bill to avoid payment collection and your account being in debt. We can easily agree a payment plan to help you pay any arrears when you return to work.

What is the best way to manage my bills through these next few months?

We recommend that if your business is closed, then you ensure all non-essential appliances are switched off at the mains, and your heating is turned off. Do not leave anything on standby unless there is a security or safety reason for doing so. If there is no energy consumption at your property, then you will only be charged a standing charge which covers the costs of maintaining your meter and supply to the property.

When the government advises you can safely access your site, please provide a meter reading immediately so we can make sure your bills are correct. For more information on how to read your meter, click here.

What's the best way to contact Bristol Energy?

You can get in touch by calling us on 0808 168 3888, Monday to Fridays, 9am to 5pm (excluding Bank Holidays) or by emailing: business@bristol-energy.co.uk

Our company

How is Bristol Energy handling customer data while the office is closed?

We take our data protection and information security responsibilities very seriously. We use secure network connections and IT systems to ensure customer data is safe whether we are office based or working remotely.

How are staff being supported?

We are ensuring all of our staff are getting the support they need. We have been sharing up to date Public Health England guidelines on the outbreak daily to ensure colleagues are in a safe environment and supported.

We understand working from home can be a huge adjustment to people. Line managers are checking in frequently to ensure teams are supported, and we are currently running online support sessions for colleagues, led by our mental health first aiders.

Several avenues of emotional support are available to colleagues during this time, including our Employee Assistance Programme (a phone service where people can speak to trainer counsellors.)

Could the outbreak put Bristol Energy as a business at risk?

Bristol Energy has a Business Continuity Plan in place to ensure we are prepared and equipped to operate during an office closure. Aside from staff working from home, it’s business as usual for our company as we adjust to this new way of working. We are a safe and solvent business which is able to continue to fulfil its commitments to our people, our customers and our shareholders.