Tycoon’s energy company, Ovo, gets banged up for poor service

Tycoon’s energy company is blown up over poor service: Angry customers at the Ovo offshoot are left out in the rain as temperatures drop

  • Stephen Fitzpatrick slammed by angry customers
  • Energy company Boost is inundated with hundreds of complaints
  • No heating, hot water and lighting in freezing temperatures

Ovo boss Stephen Fitzpatrick has been slammed by angry customers left without heating, hot water and lights in freezing temperatures.

Energy company Boost – part of Fitzpatrick’s Ovo Group – has been inundated with hundreds of complaints from households – many of whom are among the least wealthy and most vulnerable.

A Facebook page with more than 5,000 members was inundated with hundreds of angry posts and calls for help.

Misery: Roxann Richardson from Manchester with her daughter Isla

Misery: Roxann Richardson from Manchester with her daughter Isla

Boost supplies 220,000 households with gas and electricity bought via supposedly “smart” prepaid meters. Most clients of this type are less affluent.

But many are angry with Boost. They say they’ve saved and saved to pay for the rising bill for heat and light, only to find their accounts won’t top up when they try to give the company their money, due to technical errors with its app and his prepaid card.


Many complained that their electricity was cut after their payments were denied because of the gremlins, leaving families in the dark and freezing cold, unable to cook or heat their homes.

Their frustration is compounded because they were unable to reach the company’s customer service department either by phone or online.

Manchester mother-of-two Roxann Richardson said her gas supply had become erratic as weather conditions worsened. Once she was without heat for 30 hours. She feared her family’s Christmas would be ruined. Her troubles began after her meter’s signal – which is linked to a prepaid card topped up at a local store – became erratic. She was told she needed a new card but it never arrived. Roxann, 34, said an engineer said to have been sent to help did not show up.

“We sat in the car to keep warm because the house is so cold,” she said. “It was horrific. I just sat there and cried the other day.’

Ovo represents the bulk of Fitzpatrick’s labyrinthine business empire. It was founded in 2009 to challenge the Big Six utilities and has 4.5 million customers.

Boost was introduced in 2017. It is aimed at those who do not want to pay for their electricity with monthly direct debits – or who cannot afford it. Poorer customers can be forced onto prepaid meters if they don’t pay their bills on time.

With many areas covered in snow and ice, angry customers have taken to social media to demand answers from Fitzpatrick. Some have criticized the £27million in loans made available to directors of Ovo’s parent company last year, which was announced by the MoS in the autumn. The company has two directors, Fitzpatrick and one other person.

A Boost customer wrote: “Christmas on the doorstep and no heating. God knows how people can charge if my payments are declined again.’ Another wrote: “I started quitting Boost today. I’ve never seen such a front company in my life.’

Watchdog Ofgem said it could not comment on individual cases but confirmed complaints have been escalated to its compliance teams.

Under Fire: Ovo's boss, tycoon Stephen Fitzpatrick

Under fire: Ovo’s boss, tycoon Stephen Fitzpatrick

Rocio Concha, which ones? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said: “In our 2022 annual survey of energy companies, Boost received just two stars for service and that seems reflected in the issues customers are now facing. It is extremely worrying to hear reports of vulnerable customers struggling to get through to their utility when much of the country is grappling with freezing temperatures.

“Energy companies urgently need to step up their game. This includes ensuring their customer service departments are adequately staffed and that customers with traditional prepayment meters – who are more vulnerable – have access to government support.’

Citizens Advice recently ranked Boost and Ovo Energy among the lowest rated providers.

In the fall, Ovo hired 500 people to handle the surge in customer calls. This followed a controversial round of 2,000 layoffs earlier this year. He took £2million from Ovo to pay for a home in the Cotswolds in 2013.

Fitzpatrick has come under more scrutiny as his energy company has grown rapidly after acquiring retail giant SSE in 2020 but has so far failed to deliver consistent profits.

The MoS previously revealed corporate losses of nearly £300m over three years. MPs have questioned Fitzpatrick about Ovo’s finances and £40m in intercompany loans.

A Boost spokesperson said: “Some customers are having trouble charging or reaching us due to high demand.

‘We are increasing the number of consultants available to us.’


https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-11549039/Tycoons-energy-firm-Ovo-blasted-poor-service.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Tycoon’s energy company, Ovo, gets banged up for poor service

Janice Dean

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