This page covers what we'll do to help you if you're having difficulty payiny. This includes consideration of your individual circumstances and your ability to pay. Very rarely we will need to disconnect a customer. Here we set out how this may happen as a last resort. A number of sources of independent advice are also listed.
You can download a copy of our helpful guide here.
This page covers what we'll do to help you if you're having difficulty paying. This includes consideration of your individual circumstances and your ability to pay. Very rarely we will need to disconnect a customer. Here we set out how this may happen as a last resort. A number of sources of independent advice are listed below.
Citizens Advice – Energy
Telephone: 0345 404 0506
Talking Money (formally Bristol Debt Advice Centre)
1 Hide Market
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
The Disabled Living Foundation
Telephone: 0300 999 0004
Ombudsman Services: Energy
PO Box 966
Telephone: 0330 440 1624
Energy Saving Trust
Paying your bill
We will always try to reach an agreement that allows you time to pay and which takes into account any information you, or any advice organisation may give us regarding your ability to pay. We will take this information into account when calculating and agreeing a repayment plan with you.
If you are having difficulty or will have difficulty paying all or part of your electricity and/or gas bill, we will:
- Talk to you to find out what we can do to help. This may be via phone, email or letter.
- Take all reasonable steps to assess your ability to pay.
- Discuss your individual circumstances, in particular, whether you or anyone in your household is vulnerable (see our page on 'Our help for vulnerable customers').
- Offer ways to help you in paying any overdue or future bills.
- Offer you energy efficiency advice in order to assist you in finding ways to reduce your energy costs.
Possible solutions we could offer may include:
- agreeing that you can defer payment for a short period of time;
- agreeing that you can repay a debt to us as instalments;
- agreeing that you can pay future bills to us as instalments;
- installing a prepayment meter at your property where it is safe and/or practical to do so; or
- if you are on certain means tested benefits, arranging for payment directly from benefits through the Fuel Direct scheme.
We will offer to install a prepayment meter in your home if you have declined our proposals for payment.
If we have been unable to make contact with you by phone, email or letter, as described in Stage one, we may arrange for a Debt Counselling Agent (DCA) from Grosvenor Services to visit your property to discuss the options available.
Grosvenor Services is a subsidiary of Bristol-based customer service specialist, Echo Managed Services. Grosvenor is vastly experienced in this area and the team focuses on engaging sensitively with customers whilst fully understanding their circumstances and any vulnerabilities. Grosvenor is passionate about great customer service, even in more sensitive and difficult situations.
With one of the largest field teams operating throughout the UK, Grosvenor provides customer-centric solutions to major blue chip organisations, working predominantly in the UK utilities industry. FCA and ISO 9001 accredited, Grosvenor is also a member of the Institute of Customer Service and was named the UK’s best outsourced collections provider at the 2017 Credit Awards, the largest and most prestigious awards programme in the credit and collections industry.
If you decline our offer of a prepayment meter or if we continue to be unable to make contact with you, we may at our discretion apply to a magistrate for a warrant to access the property to install a prepayment meter without your consent.
If we install a prepayment meter to help you repay your debt to Bristol Energy, we will advise you of:
- How much money you owe and why.
- The amount of debt that we will recover through the prepayment meter each week.
- Details of any standing charges that you will have to pay.
- How long it will take to clear the debt at the agreed repayment rate.
- How to operate your prepayment meter.
- The amount of emergency credit available on your prepayment meter and how this works.
- A telephone number for advice and emergencies; and details of any charges for replacing lost or damaged prepayment devices.
If it turns out not to be safe and reasonably practical to install a prepayment meter we will make a further attempt to agree a repayment plan, taking into account all information that we have in relation to your individual circumstances and ability to pay.
We may also prevent you from switching away from Bristol Energy to another supplier until the debt is repaid. However, if you have a prepayment meter and your debt is £500 or less, you may switch to another supplier provided that your new supplier agrees that you can repay the debt to them rather than to us.
Disconnection is always a last resort. We may take steps to disconnect your supply if you:
- Fail to keep to an agreed repayment plan; or
- Interfere or tamper with a prepayment meter in any way; or
- Refuse to enter into a repayment plan when we have not installed a prepayment meter due to it not being considered safe and reasonably practical to do so; or
- Despite being eligible for the Fuel Direct Scheme, refuse to make use of this.
However, before we make any decision we will take into account all your individual circumstances known to us at that time.
We will not disconnect in winter (between 1 October and 31 March), any property where we know, or have reason to believe, that anyone in that property could be considered to be vulnerable. Where we have no information, we will take all reasonable steps to determine if anyone at the property could be considered vulnerable before we make a decision to disconnect. You may notify us at any time if you believe that this is the case.
To have your supply reconnected you will need to agree a repayment plan to cover the outstanding amount. This could include:
- agreeing payment of any security deposit (which can be paid in instalments based on your ability to pay).
- agreeing payment of any expenses resulting from disconnection and reconnection (which can be paid in instalments based on your ability to pay); and
- paying your first instalment.
Once this is complete, we will aim to reconnect your supply by midnight of the next working day.
About Fuel Direct
If you are in receipt of Pension Credit, Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be able to take advantage of the Fuel Direct Scheme. If so, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will take money each week to the value of the current Fuel Direct rate from your benefits and pay us the money you owe for any electricity and/or gas debt you have with us as well as for your current usage. It will usually take two weeks for us to set this up with the DWP.