Saturday, 13 February 2016

Age UK call for a meeting

As the 'media storm' subsides we move into the second week of our campaign for compensation for misled E.ON Age UK tariff customers. The message is clear from so many of the comments left by those supporting the petition. They all express outrage at both Age UK and E.ON.

Many of you would have heard the response of Age UK in the media. It is apparently all a storm in a teacup whipped up by the media and in particular The Sun.

Age UK and E.ON have responded to the media storm by 'suspending' their commercial association, but they continue to defend their position. They would have us believe this move has nothing to do with the campaign. Meanwhile they continue to peddle misinformation.

The boss of Age UK says that they received 'typically' just £10 from each customer signing up to the Age UK tariff.

A simple calculation shows this is not true. The accounts for the year 2014/15 for UK Enterprise Ltd show they received £6.3 million from E.ON for signing up 152,000 customers. It is simple arithmetic.

The average received was £41 per customer. This means that on average each customer was giving almost £10 a month to Age UK.

The petition will now be the focus of continued press and media interest. The people speak.

I have been asked whether I worry about the damage this is doing to Age UK and the vital work they do. The answer is yes, of course. But it is not we who have done the damage. It is Age UK. We cannot turn a blind eye to a wrong simply because it is a charity. That would be a cover up, and there are far too many of those.

Age UK says they have done nothing wrong. Legally I am sure that is so. I am also sure that they had all good intentions - but the ends do not always justify the means. To simply justify misleading 'customers' by the good work of the charity is not an ethical position. Age UK had a duty of care to those who turned to them for help. They did so believing they would look out for their interests.

The Age UK tariff was not the best available deal for them. They could have been referred to other energy suppliers who would have given a better one. E.ON do acknowledge that the Age UK tariff was not the cheapest of their deals on offer at the time.

Age UK now say that price isn't always what counts and that service and quality of after care matters. Indeed it does. But there is scant evidence to show Age UK customers got better service or aftercare than they would have otherwise been given. On the contrary, E.ON repeatedly scores low in customer satisfaction ratings by  Which? the consumer group. They are not the worst of the big six, but they are not the best deal on offer when it comes to customer care.

The Age UK Enterprise boss, Ian Foy, has said he would like a meeting with me to discuss 'the complaint'. This is a good move and I will respond to it. Age UK needs to move forward positively from this, but it can only do so if it understands the problem. At the moment it seems they do not.  He says

"We do not believe we have misled anyone who bought our products, and we warmly encourage Ray Noble to get in touch with us so that we can talk this over with him."

I do welcome this move and will be in touch with him to arrange such a meeting.

This coming week I will be posting an open letter to the boss of E.ON UK asking for a meeting to discuss their response.

Meanwhile please support the petition.

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