Levelling the playing field

27th Feb 2017


In a world where “fake news” and “post truth facts” have become part of our language, “information” has never been more valuable. Talking to colleagues in the industry, access to that information is not as straight-forward as it seems.

Let me give you one example that needs to be addressed by the regulator Ofgem, as clearly the Gas Distribution Networks are being treated as second-class citizens by them. 

I find it incomprehensible that if my electricity supply was going to be interrupted by the Distribution Network Operator for some planned maintenance (as happened this week by the way and it was well handled by WPD) then I would be informed, by post, with a letter personalised addressed. However, if the GDN had to do the same they would be forced to write “Dear Householder”. Why? Well, it seems the DNOs have access to household data provided to them but the GDNs do not have the same data supplied.

Does it matter? Well firstly, as a point of principle, the playing field should be level and Ofgem need to act. Secondly, the gas networks are rightly encouraged to focus more on the customer – they do pay the bills after all. Yet what sort of relationship can exist when the customer is referred to by a number or as “Dear Householder”?

I have witnessed first-hand the efforts being made by the gas networks to offer customers a great service. I have seen, in meetings with the CEOs, presentations which showcase “customer moments”. They are invariably good; they are invariably well-intentioned and they reflect well on the industry. If only the regulator had the power to insist on this minor change being made, customer experience could go up another notch. Oh just a minute, they do. Over to you at Ofgem.

 Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO