French energy giant EDF has been slapped with a £2m fine by industry regulator Ofgem for poor service. The firm, which now owns British Energy, was fined for failing to hit required timescales for connecting new customers. The fine refers to delays on 108 cases in 2006, typically in new property developments and housing estates. EDF Energy Networks insists its customer service has improved since and the level of its fine was mitigated by the £450,000 in compensation it had already paid to affected customers. The £2m fine was the joint second-highest Ofgem has ever levied.
The story was heavily covered across broadcast and print media. Sarah Harrison, Ofgem's MD, said: 'Customers should not have to accept poor service in any part of the energy market ... if (energy companies) are failing to offer good service, Ofgem will take tough regulatory action.' EDF itself said it 'greatly regretted' the delays and had made 'significant changes'.
Who are the PR players?
EDF's comms operation is led by Andrew Brown, director of corporate communications. The firm uses Brunswick for corporate media relations. Trevor Loveday is Ofgem's head of communications.
What happens next?
Britain's big six power companies have had to endure some less than glowing coverage in the press as profits and prices have escalated. One of the key PR challenges is to counter the notion consumers get a raw deal. Last month, Ofgem told the firms they must improve service, following research that showed fewer than 25 per cent of customers were happy with the way complaints were handled.
£2m - Fine slapped on EDF by industry regulator Ofgem.