Spark Energy fails to communicate
From hours waiting on hold to quarterly bills which never arrive, my relationship with Spark Energy has gone from bad to worse.
It doesn’t take much for me to moan about a company, be it a shop I’ve had a problem with to a bad meal in a restaurant, but my recent experiences with Spark Energy have forced me to take more action than simply whining to my friends.
Moving into a rented property last year we decided to stick with the energy supplier, Spark Energy, and see what the bills were like. After giving a meter reading and bank details for a direct debit, we waited for our first bill. Nothing arrived for a month so I called up and after several wasted lunch hours on hold, I spoke to someone who said the bill would be sent out.
This scenario repeated itself several times over five months with no sign of a bill, so I then resorted to contacting the press office.
The press team were quick to respond, but by this time we wanted to switch as I worked out it would save us about £100 a year. However, I was told we had actually been underpaying our bills for the past six months – no one had thought to tell us this – so if we wanted to leave we’d have to pay around £150 to clear the bill.
We paid via direct debit because it was cheaper, but because of this the company had estimated our bills over the winter, and severely underestimated them with no explanation. We begrudgingly stayed with Spark and a few months later with no communication from the company again, we noticed our May bill had been put up by £49 a month.
Now while I don’t really agree with the price rising, I can’t argue too much as all the leading suppliers are doing it. But £49 a month is pretty steep for May, especially because as a house we’re pretty stingy with the heating and will always go for a blanket over turning it on.
Your rights when prices rise
A further email to the press office resolved the ‘mistake’ but it really doesn’t justify a company doing this. We were told a letter had been sent out, but I don't see how a company can justify putting up the price by so much when it has no idea if the letter has been received or not. We definitely didn't get it, and Spark didn't bother to try and call us or email us to let us know.
Under the Direct Debit rules energy companies are supposed to inform customers if a payment will change, especially if it’s going to increase, at least 10 days before it happens. If it doesn’t, you should contact your supplier and complain. If it’s unable to answer the complaint within eight weeks take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman - exactly what we plan to do.
Spark's lack of transparency and communication has been atrocious and it seems my experience isn’t unique. A quick look at the reviews section of the website shows many more grievances from other unhappy customers:
If you've had a similar experince with your energy company, be it Spark or another provider, please share it in the comment box below.
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