This evening, I am probably more angry than I have ever been in my life.
My mother turns 80 this year. She is active, feisty, articulate and, I am reliably informed, the Devil to beat at bridge. A leading print and broadcast journalist in her younger days, she broadcasts on Radio Gloucestershire regularly with Dominic Cotter.
Today she was reduced to tears and feelings of utter hopelessness when an energy firm decided to remove £27,000 from her bank account, following an administrative error whilst in the process of switching accounts. (Mum thinks she may have misreported her meter reading when she was filling in the online form to switch.) And when she phoned them to get help, they informed her that the problem wasn’t theirs to deal with.
£27,000. Roughly the average annual salary in the UK.
£27,000. Immediately putting my mum’s bank account into unauthorised overdraft, with all the complications and financial penalties that go with that situation.
Who takes £27,000 out of a domestic account belonging to an elderly and potentially vulnerable customer without checking first?
Luckily, her bank understands the concept of customer care. The £27,000 is back in Mum’s account and was put there immediately she rang them this morning. And so does the energy company to which she’s been trying to switch. They’ve given her a dedicated number to ring if there’s any further problem.
Green Star Energy’s website quotes its Senior Management Team as saying “Our mission is clear – great service, easy to understand products and savings on your bill.”
Well, Joanne Thornton, Managing Director of Green Star Energy, you and your colleagues have failed in your mission today. You’ve brought a 79 year old lady close to despair and offered no apology for your actions.
That’s not “great service”, by anyone’s set of standards.
Mum has given me permission to suggest to friends that they might like to share her story far and wide.
Green Star Energy is owned by Just Energy in the USA. If any of my friends happen to know any of their board of directors, please do introduce them to me.
I may have something to say to them about values, ethical behaviour and responsible business practice.
And, on behalf of my mum, I may just swear down the phone at them as well…