We’re concerned that the ‘temporary’ 6.5% Covid-related price increase, which came into effect 11 months ago, is now permanent.
In our November newsletter, we asked you to get in touch to explain how the cost of Jersey Gas was affecting you and your families. We received many emails and, in some cases, families were unable to afford to turn their heating on and reported being able to see their breath in their homes. We included these case studies in a letter to Jersey Gas (see below) at the end of January.
We received a reply (see below), which crucially – and disappointingly – did not address the price rise question we had posed on behalf of consumers and the Consumer Council is worried.
What the reply did state was that Jersey Gas had ‘become more conscious of the needs and requirements of vulnerable people within our customer base’ and has recently launched a new scheme for vulnerable customers so Jersey Gas can extend support to them and their households based on their particular circumstances.
Although the Priority Customer Care Register comes nowhere close to resolving the price issue we raised with the company, it at least provides some support for struggling Islanders, offering tailored payment plans, and we recommend you register with the company as soon as possible if you are struggling.
Our letter to Jersey Gas – 25th January 2021:
Attention David Cruddace, CEO
I am the Chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council and contact you on behalf of Jersey Gas customers living in Jersey.
As you are aware, the Council has actively opposed the ‘temporary’ 6.5% Covid-related price increase imposed on your customers with effect from 1 May 2020. This increase was implemented with just a couple of days’ notice, and without any official communication to your customers.
Since the price rise, we have raised our concerns, both with yourself and your predecessor, Ian Plenderleith, as well as with the Government of Jersey. We hoped to act as an intermediary between the company and Government to try and progress discussions on how the matter could be reversed or resolved.
Both you and Ian have explained the reason for this unexpected increase, citing the impact of Covid-19 and the fact that much of your income is derived from the hospitality industry, which was closed for several months in 2020 and again this year. You have also confirmed that internal changes and staff pay cuts have been introduced to aid the financial burden caused by the loss of usage.
We have shared this information with your customers via our social media network and newsletters and empathise with your situation, experienced by almost every business during the pandemic. Yet this ‘temporary’ rise is negatively impacting the very people Jersey Gas is there to serve. Individual customers are the ones caught in the middle and are literally paying the price for the lockdown on hospitality. Many have no other means of heating or cooking facilities, especially those in rented accommodation, which includes 15 social housing properties.
To highlight the impact this price rise is having on Islanders, Jersey Gas customers have authorised us to share their experiences with you, the majority were willing to supply their names should you wish to contact them directly. These can be found on the following couple of pages. It is important to note that, as per your suggestion, when contacted by concerned Islanders, we urge them to contact your help centre to explain their personal situation.
As you will read, some have already switched to electric boilers, and the perceived lack of regulation and oversight of Jersey Gas as a company, compared to that in the UK, is mentioned in a couple of the correspondence we received. Islanders often feel frustrated that there is a lack of ombudsman in Jersey in relation to both energy and telecom service providers.
With the temperature dropping and many Islanders concerned to put on their heating, we ask how long you plan to maintain this ‘temporary charge’ for?
The Council is keen to assist in any way to progress this between the two parties, for the benefit of Islanders, so should you require any further information, please contact me at the below details.
Carl Walker Chairman, Jersey Consumer Council
cc: Senator Lyndon Farnham Government of Jersey Deputy Minister and Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture
Response from Jersey Gas – 12th February 2021
Attention Carl Walker
Thank you for your letter dated 25th January 2021 and the feedback enclosed from Jersey Gas customers.
I take on board the concerns of both the Jersey Consumer Council and our valued Jersey Gas customers. I am committed to assisting our customers with any concerns they have about Jersey Gas from the quality of customer service they receive to worries they may have paying their bills. I would urge the customers who took the time to contact the Jersey Consumer Council to contact Jersey Gas directly so we can identify them, then deal with their queries and reply to them individually. Or if they have given you permission, please share their details with us and we will
As a company, we recognise and have become more conscious of the needs and requirements of vulnerable people within our customer base and agreed there was a need to develop a policy to define who our vulnerable customers are and how we can take account of their needs. Therefore,
we have recently launched our Priority Service Register for vulnerable customers so we can extend support to them and their households based on their particular circumstances. We keep a confidential register, called a Priority Service Register (PSR), which is easy to join and free of charge.
I have attached the Priority Form, which explains the benefits of joining the register, please feel free to share it with our customers who contact you.
If our situation changes rest assured we will contact you and our customers with an update.
You can contact the company via their website or calling 01534 755500.