Coronavirus – Heat Networks Customer Update
The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has impacted all of us, and we wanted you to know what we are doing to ensure our continued support for all of our customers over the next few weeks.
All of us have a role to play to help with the national effort to slow the spread of the virus, and our focus is on the well-being both of our employees and our customers, as well as supporting the wider community.
We understand that our customers will have concerns about the regularity of their energy supply over this period. Please rest assured our engineers and customer support staff will be doing all they can to ensure we maintain the highest level of service that we possibly can. We are working behind the scenes to keep you (and our teams) safe and protected.
Our working hours for General Enquiries will be changing on 25th March 2020 as we’re taking steps to keep our hard-working people in our call centres safe. The new hours will be Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
We have postponed non-essential maintenance work and other activities not directly associated with emergency work, providing appropriate protective clothing where our staff need to attend on-site. Whether it be site-wide or individual energy outages, we have processes in place to react and resolved faults quickly.
As many of our customers will be self-isolating, we are conscious that some customer may be confined to their homes for prolonged periods, and this may result in greater consumption of energy. In particular this may impact those in vulnerable circumstances or on prepayment meters, and who may need additional help. If you find yourself in such circumstances, please contact us and we will aim to provide additional support where possible.
To help you, we have provided below the answers for some frequently asked questions. If you have particular concerns not answered here, then please call our Customer Contact Centre on 0345 078 3215 or email us at email@example.com.
Head of Customer Service – Enterprise Utilities
Frequently Asked Questions
- How should I get in contact with you at this time?
We want to keep our phones free for our most vulnerable customers, therefore, where possible we are asking customers to send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This way our teams can work on getting back to you when the phone lines are quieter, we have teams working 24/7/365. The benefit here is that you are not left hanging on the line unnecessarily and you can get on with your day. We’ll typically get back to you within the same day.
- How do we pay our bills if we can’t get out and about?
You can call us on 0345 078 3215 to pay your bills over the telephone phone. We are also bringing forward the go-live of our new customer online portal to early April 2020, where you will be able to pay your bills and perform many other actions online. We will contact you again when this is open for registration.
- How do we top-up our prepayment meters?
Our customer service team are able to take payments over the telephone and add credit to your meters instantly. You can call 0345 078 3215 during working hours or call our fault line out of hours on 0800 316 2194 – we will have someone there to help you around the clock.
- What do we do if we suffer financially and struggle to pay bills in the coming period?
We encourage any customer in this situation to contact SSE as a matter of urgency so that we can discuss how we can help you. We may be able to make changes to your payment plan, or in extreme cases place a temporary hold on your account until your situation changes. At this difficult time is our wish that our customers do not experience additional financial or other stress relating to their energy supply.
- Where can I go to get more help if I’m struggling with my energy usage and costs because of COVID-19
The following organisations all offer great advice for anyone struggling to manage, or pay, their energy bills:-
- Citizens Advice – offers free and impartial advice
- Energy Savings Trust – has lots of free practical help with cutting your energy use, and bills.
- Step Change – is a debt advice charity that can give you free help and advice.
- Are your heat networks resilient enough to service all customers if they all need to stay at home?
Yes, the networks are built to work up to the maximum demand, so if all our customers are using heat and hot water it will not overload the system. At the present time we don’t anticipate any issues with our supply, and we will keep customers across our Heat Network sites informed if that changes in any way.
- Will you respond to fault calls as normal?
Yes, where it is safe for both our staff and customers to do so. If we need to visit your property and anyone there has contracted COVID-19, has suspected symptoms, or is self-isolating after direct contact with another who has the virus, please could you let us know as soon as possible so we can make suitable arrangements.
- What will you do if any of your engineers contract COVID-19?
We will do the right thing by contacting all customers and staff that the employee has been in contact with in the 14 days prior to the confirmed infection.
- I have an appointment to get a prepayment meter installed, will this still go ahead?
Our engineers are now practicing an enhanced level of safety when risk assessing customer visits. In light of recent Government guidelines, all of these non-essential meter installations will be postponed until such time as it is safe to proceed.
- What about you call centre staff? Is their sufficient cover for them?
Yes, our centre staff have now been issued with equipment to work from home and we should be able to ensure that shift workers and those staff who handle customer call enquiries can continue to fulfil their roles as usual. Also, you will soon be able to use our customer self-serve online portal for many activities.
24th March 2020