A number of IRESA customers are facing a sudden direct debit increase or a one-off payment of hundreds of pounds – and in some cases both. If applicable, the direct debit and one-off payment were both taken out of customer’s accounts at the end of January, with very little warning.

Customers of the small supplier have taken to online forums to express their anguish, as they say they’re struggling to get through to the company on the phone.

Alex Neil, Which? managing director of Home Products and Services, said: “It’s unacceptable for any energy supplier to be notifying its customers it’s taking large sums from their account at short notice, and then have its customers struggle to contact them to discuss the issue.

“As well as competitive prices, suppliers should be working to give people a good customer service. Customers who are unhappy should switch away and consider the service and price offered by a supplier – not just whether it’s the cheapest deal.”

Victoria MacGregor, director of energy at Citizens Advice, added: “To send customers a request for a one-off payment of up to hundreds of pounds on top of their monthly direct debit is unacceptably poor customer service.

“The standard practice for suppliers is to spread these payments out over a number of months. Instead, IRESA customers have received a bill out of the blue, right after Christmas when many people will struggle to pay.

“Sadly, this level of service won’t be new to IRESA customers. Citizens Advice referred the supplier to Ofgem for its poor customer service in November, following numerous complaints, including billing problems, long phone queues and inappropriately blocking customers from switching.

“Anyone who is concerned about this payment should contact IRESA and ask for a more affordable repayment schedule. If you are still unsure about your options, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.”

It will not have passed under the consumer radar that both GB Energy Supply and Future Energy both hiked their direct debits shortly before closure – there is concern this may be a warning sign that another small supplier is in trouble.

IRESA were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

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