Spark Energy has gone bust and Ofgem, the government regulator for energy markets, have appointed Ovo Energy to take over the supply.So, what happens next if you are one of the 290,000 customers that are currently on supply?
What Happens to Spark Energy Customers now?
Spark Energy customers will remain with the company for the foreseeable future.
Don’t worry if you were thinking that you’ll be left without gas and electricity. The collapse of Spark Energy won’t leave you in the cold and the dark. This is because, under the agreement between Spark and Ovo Energy, customers will continue to be supplied by Spark Energy Ltd. Therefore, you can rest assured about continuity of supply, no matter Spark’s predicament.
Currently, there is no word on whether customers coming off their current tariffs will be offered Ovo tariffs or Spark Energy tariffs. A word of advice from us at Selectra, it is always best to shop around for the best gas and electric tariffs. Your gas and electric supply will remain turned on but your energy bill will come down in price.
What Happens to my Bills?
Spark Energy founder Stephen Fitzpatrick and Ofgem executive director Mary Starks, have both said it will be business as usual for Spark Energy customers.
The agreement between Ovo and Spark protects your current tariff so you will be paying the same as you were before provided you stick to the same tariff and don’t use more gas or electricity than you were doing so previously.
- Ovo & Spark deal: What does it means for existing customers?
- Maintain existing credit balances for households and businesses.
- Keep current tariff conditions and rates.
- Payout on money owed to existing and former customers.
What does this mean for customers on a fixed rate tariff? Tariff prices and conditions remain the same. This means there will be no change to the exit fees, contract dates, unit rates or standing charges.
If you are a customer with Spark and have been with them for a few years, it’s likely that you have come off your fixed rate tariff and that means you will have been moved automatically to a variable rate tariff. These rates are not fixed and you are not protected against price increases. Your rates have almost certainly increased since this is a more expensive way to pay for your gas and electric than with a fixed rate tariff.
These rates could still increase under Ovo Energy as they are not protected in the agreement. This is why we urge customers to look for a competitive fixed rate tariff with good customer service.
Who will my new Energy Supplier be?
Customers with Spark Energy as of 27th November 2018 will remain with Spark Energy. This minimises disruption for existing customers as the name on the top of the bill will still be Spark Energy. However, some questions remain for the future. It is not known whether customers will be slowly switched over to Ovo Energy or if existing customers will be offered new Spark Energy tariffs.
For the most up to date information on the situation, you can contact our energy advice team.
What to do if you are Owed Money by Spark Energy.
Rest assured that under the agreement with Ovo Energy, any money that you are owed by Spark energy will still be honoured, meaning that you will receive every penny that you were previously promised.
This agreement extends to former customers of Spark Energy who are no longer with the company. Customers that have switched away but are still waiting on credit to be returned to them need not worry, that money will still be returned to them.
Spark receives a Record Number of Complaints.
At the time of going bust, Spark Energy had a record number of complaints made against them in a given month. In October this year the Energy Ombudsman, the body set up to handle complaints about energy companies, received 105 complaints from angry customers pushing the current number of complaints over the last 12 months to over 800.
Customer’s complaints about the Selkirk-based Energy Supplier included bad treatment by customer services, failure to have credit returned and increasing bills. Many customer’s direct debits increased after being with the company after a couple of months.
At Selectra we found that this was a familiar story after we received a higher amount of calls than expected from disgruntled customers wanting to know how to reduce their bills. As a result of this, Selectra decided to do some digging to find out what was at the root of such a massive price increase, reaching £80 a month in some cases.
Sampling over 200 calls to our advice line by Spark Energy customers, it seems that over a period from 2016 to 2017 customers were charged less than would be expected for their energy bills. This meant that they were using more electricity than they were being billed for. Sounds good for the customer but actually, this can play havoc with their budgeting in the future as many customers later found out to their detriment.
After a few months of customers giving meter readings, they found their bills were corrected for the difference in predicted vs actual usage. The reality for the customer was a sharp increase in the amount they were paying on their direct debits often without warning.
On top of this customers also needed to pay back the amount that they were undercharged, and unknowingly owed, in previous months. So a bill of £40 a month (underquoted by £20) would be readjusted to £60 which is what the customer should have played in the first instance. Then add to that the £20 a month that the customer is in deficit and to pay that off Spark energy add that on top of the actual quote and you end up with customers paying £80 a month. Double what they sign up for and that can hardly be described as a good deal.
Pro tip for Contacting the OmbudsmanIt’s always better to write to them first, as the Ombudsman will ask for evidence of your complaint and any correspondence with the supplier in order to take up your case.
I am in credit with Spark Energy.
Customers that have overpaid on their direct debit (which, let's face it is quite a few of them) are owed money by Spark Energy. We advise them to write to Spark either by email or letter asking for any outstanding credit back.
Any credit you have with Spark energy can be claimed back whilst you are a current customer or an old customer of spark energy. We have found that it is easier to claim your money back going through the Energy Ombudsman rather than Spark directly and we have helped many customers get money back that is owed to them.
I want to switch to Spark Energy.
If you are currently in the process of switching, Spark Energy is still taking on new customers. You can call our customer advice team to find out the latest on your switch to Spark Energy.
People who are thinking about switching to Spark Energy still can. Spark Energy continues to trade albeit under Ovo Energy supplier’s license, which means that you can still receive your Gas and Electricity from Spark Energy as a new customer of the company.
"Order your supply and someone will get in touch with you within 3 to 4 weeks and you will receive an email notification within 24 to 48 hours."
Spark have told us that new customers wishing to sign up to Spark Energy can still switch, you need to register their details with the supplier and they will get back to you within 3-4 weeks with an updated status of the switch.
Order your supply and someone will get in touch with you within 3 to 4 weeks and you will receive an email notification within 24 to 48 hours.