Together Energy Reviews: Good or Bad in 2019/20?
Together Energy’s team of 110 people consists of a small group of staff responsible for customer service. Are they keeping up with incoming queries or letting them fall by the wayside? Find out what customers are saying in Together Energy reviews and how they’ve rated the Dunbarton-based supplier.
Together Energy customer reviews
When Together Energy first started trading in 2016, their customers signed-up of their own free will, so reviews were initially fairly positive. But when the energy company was handed 36,000 customers from the failed supplier OneSelect, bitter reviews skyrocketed. One year on, have the waters calmed or are they still choppy? Let’s look at Together Energy’s performance in customer service to find out. Before we start, if you want a reminder about who Together Energy are and what they can offer you, check out our complete Together Energy guide by clicking the button below.
Customer service: what is it exactly?
Before evaluating Together Energy’s customer service, it’s worth differentiating between the three very different concepts that give it meaning. It’s very tempting to conflate all three of them and lump them into the same “customer service” category. Let’s look at each of them individually and see how they may overlap. This will help us assess the comments left by their customers on consumer-review websites.
- Ability to get in contact. This refers to how easy it is to be attended to by a customer service team member after contacting them through any of the channels listed on their contact page, be it by phone, email or form.
- Response time. This is the time it takes to respond to a customer query. It includes the minutes passed while placed on hold on the telephone, or the number of hours elapsed between sending an email and receiving a response.
- Customer care. When a team member does respond, we consider their conduct, particularly if they were courteous, precise in diagnosing the problem and efficient in resolving it. The latter includes explaining the next steps to be taken to get the issue resolved.
Below we’ve examined some of the most frequent themes that have weighed down on Together Energy’s customer service team.
Money owed to customers
In Together Energy’s main page, we quoted a newspaper article published by the Clydebank Post on May 27 2019 regarding a Together Energy customer who struggled to receive a credit sum he was owed by the supplier. The hoops which he had to jump through were similarly suffered by many others like him.
They huffed and puffed when I called and could or would not tell me how much credit I had. (Matthew from Together Energy)
While this could cover the second head of “response time”, (that’s if we consider a refund to be the response expected), it merges with the third head of “customer care”. That’s because if you’re in credit, the customer service agent will be reluctant to tell you by how much you are owed. Perhaps Together Energy has an internal policy not to tell customers who are in credit how much exactly they are owed. This would certainly explain the recurring complaint from customers on the supplier’s lack of transparency.
Lack of transparency is compounded with Together Energy’s failure to implement procedures to resolve the issue. In the same article by the Express, Together Energy tried to defend its failure to issue a final bill due to the customer being in credit.
We are sorry that on this occasion, Mr Hobbins was not advised that we wanted to review his balance with him which had been flagged up in our system as showing a higher than usual credit and as a consequence he did not receive further bills. (Representative from Together Energy)
So it turns out that if you’re owed credit, you won’t receive it until you pay off your final bill. But you can’t pay off your final bill if you’re in credit. Make sense? No, it doesn’t for us either.
What adds insult to injury is that if you’re caught in this situation, contacting Together Energy frequently won’t get your issue resolved more quickly. They’ll have a note on their system telling them that they can’t go any further with this, so you’ll be trapped in a never-ending cycle of chasing money that you won’t see. This experience was echoed by another customer who got an answer to his phone call but despite being promised a follow-up, received no response at all:
I have sent three emails to their Customer Service and Complaints Team and they have ignored all three. (...) [The customer service agent] said that she will escalate this so I can get my refund. This was two weeks ago and still no final gas bill or refund. I have emailed again and still no reply. (Barry from Together Energy)
If you’re owed money by Together Energy, here are three ways you can get it back:
1. Use the Direct Debit Guarantee Scheme by visiting directdebit.co.uk if you’ve been paying your bills by direct debit.
2. Contact the Express newspaper who published the article quoted above and ask them to fight your corner. Address your email to Maisha Frost on email@example.com
3. Contact Resolver (resolver.co.uk), a free customer complaints tool that will, if necessary, escalate your complaint to the fourth step below.
Value for money
Together Energy customers were most positive overall about the supplier being good value for money. This is perhaps no surprise since its unique selling point is its range of fixed-term tariffs. On the premise that the customer stays with them for one year (Together Fixed April20 tariff), two years (Together 25 April2021 tariff) or three years (Brexit Protect April22 tariff), they’re rewarded with lower than average standing charges and unit rates.
Let’s put this into context. Ofgem has capped the energy expenditure of an average household on a dual fuel tariff at £1,254. Most energy suppliers, particularly the Big Six, charge up to this limit. The cost of Together Energy’s most popular tariff, Brexit Protect April22, is £174.95 below this cap. This makes it very competitive when customers are shopping around on price comparison websites.
However, we must remember that with every benefit comes a cost. While Together Energy’s customers are happy with their rates, they won’t be happy when they want to switch providers. Together Energy takes a risk in offering lower rates. It hedges this risk by trying to tie their customers down to a fixed term, be it one, two or three years.
Now, although the supplier would love to handcuff its customers for the duration of the term, their customers are, in reality, free to switch to another supplier whenever they want. This is a right protected under European and National law. While the supplier claims in its terms and conditions that it will use its “discretion” to decide whether or not to allow its customers to leave, it’s not actually allowed to do that. If a customer wants to leave, the supplier must let them leave.
What Together Energy can do, however, is charge an early exit fee. What’s an early exit fee? Read our guide to energy tariffs to find out. Remember that you should have the option of contacting Together Energy once you've logged in to your online account and informing them that you want to switch supplier.
Energy suppliers will typically charge between £20- £30 per fuel as an exit fee. Together Energy’s early exit fee is at the higher end, at £30 per fuel. That means you’d have to pay a whopping £60 to put an end to your gas and electricity tariffs with Together Energy before your contract comes to an end!
At Selectra, we’ll be keeping an eye on the customer reviews to see if these fees get worse when customers want to jump ship to another supplier.
Bills and account management
Poor account management and inaccurate billing were the common themes of many complaints about Together Energy left on consumer review websites. The fiasco highlighted by the Express newspaper article quoted above underlines the common difficulty customers have in receiving final bills, particularly when they’re in credit.
Have not had a bill in over 4 months despite sending in meter readings at the end of every month as requested. Phoned for the 2nd time about this in June and eventually received an accurate bill but am now almost £150 in debt as my DDebit has not been reviewed since February. (Tia from Together Energy)
There are several issues raised in the above consumer review regarding billing and account management which are worth treating separately.
1. No bill received despite submitting meter readings
This is a very common incidence among Together Energy’s customers. The Which? 2018 snapshot investigation revealed that, although they’re quick to respond to phone calls, this is certainly not the case with emails.
Email appears to be the only way to submit meter readings as their page dedicated to providing this service is…. erm, blank! That’s right, click on their page dedicated to meter readings and you get a blank screen. With no other alternative, it’s no surprise that customers send their meter readings to the only email address available: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Which? snapshot states that it takes over 6 days on average for Together Energy to respond to an email. But four months? Really? Well, you’d better believe it! If your query is on how to read your meter, take a look at the short clip below.
2. They respond quicker by phone than by email
The same Which? 2018 snapshot reported the supplier’s average response time is under one minute by phone. While this is quicker than the time taken to receive a response to an email, it can be a lot longer for others. This was another complaint left by many of their customers.
(...) unable to provide a final bill and credit me (a substantial amount is owed) after 3 months even after constantly chasing them with excessive phone calls. (Dan from Together Energy)
3. No bill, no payment...and now you’re in debt
How does this happen? You submit accurate meter readings, receive no reply nor a final bill, and the next thing you know, you’re in debt! While this sounds absurd, it’s unfortunately true.
Together Energy responded to the Which? 2018 survey by stating that if meter reads are not registered in their system then they “could increase your direct debit in line with industry forecasted consumption, or raise it by 20% (whichever is greater).”
So to conclude... you must submit your meter readings to Together Energy. As their meter readings page is down, you’ll have to submit them by email. But they won’t respond to your email and your meter readings are not registered. As a result, you get penalised by having your bill increased by 20%. Make sense? We didn’t think so.
They have estimated my readings despite having sent them these readings on several occasions. (Ben from Together Energy)
If you need help paying your energy bills, read our guide on government schemes, grants and aid available to you.
4. You finally receive, and pay off your final bill, but you’re still hounded by their debt collection department
Ok, this one wasn’t referred to in the complaint cited above, but it was by another customer who, incidentally, also praised Together Energy for their great customer service. Fintan closed his account with Together Energy in February 2019. He received and paid off his final bill in April.
Two months later he received a phone call from their debt collection team requesting payment. He called them back via their main contact number and received confirmation that what occurred was a mistake! It turns out that his bill was in fact paid, no balance was owed and he would not be hearing anything from them again.
So how could this happen? This seems to be a common case of “the left hand not talking to the right hand”. This was summarised well in the customer’s own review:
Together Energy have improved their customer service and response time significantly since April, but internal communication within the company is clearly still poor. This leads to mistakes and wasted time. (Finton with Together Energy)
Each and every energy supplier should have a page on their website in which they describe their complaints handling procedure. It should set out, step-by-step, how your complaint will be dealt with, by who, and how long it should take. Selectra found that almost every UK energy supplier had such a page. Does Together Energy offer this? Surprise surprise...no!
Lack of responses to complaints, particularly by email, was the flavour of most reviews published on consumer review websites, such as Trustpilot:
(...) at the time we were owed over £200 on our final bill, despite numerous phone calls to Together Energy and being told it was being dealt with, we were unable to get our refund. (...) Finally after 6 months we have received our refund, the Ombudsman also instructed them to issue us with a £30 payment for the inconvenience and letter of apology. We received the refund (...) but are still waiting for £30 and letter of apology. (SheralynC from Together Energy)
To conclude... response times to phone calls may well be faster than emails, but if you have a complaint to make, don’t hold your breath in getting a response from either. If eight weeks have passed, you should escalate your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. If your case is successful, they’ll require Together Energy to do the following:
- Pay you the amount owed to you
- Pay you £30 for your expenses in making your claim
- Issue you with a letter of apology
You should expect to receive the first, but you may be waiting a long time for the latter two. If this is the case, complain again to the Ombudsman.
Together Energy UK review rankings
So far we’ve looked at what customers have been saying on the consumer review websites. Let’s look at how these translate into numerical reviews published on two of the biggest consumer-review sites: Trustpilot and Which?.
Trustpilot Together Energy reviews
From the 4,842 reviews published on Trustpilot (up to the date of publication), Together Energy received a paltry 2 / 5 stars. Overall, it was rated as “poor”.
Scrolling down the reviews we noticed a swell of one-star reviews with scathing comments. These usually referred to complaints of the nature highlighted above.
Taken together, 32% of respondents rated them as excellent, while a whopping 47% rated them as bad. This represents a huge deterioration from when Selectra first reviewed them in 2018, when 44% of Trustpilot respondents rated them as excellent and only 34% rated them as bad.
At Selectra, we don’t anticipate their Trustpilot score recovering very much in the subsequent 2020 survey, unless they radically implement some huge improvements. Refunding their customers with the money they’re owed would be a great start!
Which? reviews on Together Energy
The Which? September 2018 survey was based on reviews left by 68 Together Energy customers. The supplier was awarded a customer score of 60%. This seems suspiciously high and doesn’t tie in with the overall reviews and ratings on Trustpilot. Let’s see what 5-star rating they were given for each category:
|Criteria||Rating out of 5 stars|
|Phone customer service||★★|
|Online customer service||★★|
|Helping you understand and reduce energy use||★★|
|Value for money||★★★★★|
Selectra’s review score
We’ve taken into account the number and nature of the reviews published by Together Energy customers on consumer websites. Below we’ve separated their strongest and weakest points that allow us to assess their performance in customer service.
|Response times to phone calls are slightly faster than those to emails.||Inadequate response times to emails.|
|Poor bill and complaint handling.|
|Poor internal communication.|
|Lack of internal systems to submit meter readings.|
While Together Energy may not be the worst energy supplier on the market, it’s also far from the best. It’s managing director Paul Richards, indicates that funding is crucial to its success. If this leads to a more streamlined database and communications system that would improve customer service, then he’s certainly correct. But honestly, we’re not holding our breath for a significant turnaround.
Based on low marks for customer service and bill handling, Selectra is giving the energy provider 2 / 5 stars.
Together Energy: Selectra's Verdict - ★★
Be sure to check out our full Together Energy profile to see their overall score, fuel mix, company history and more.