Apology after postal strikes meant just 16 per cent of energy vouchers redeemed
Royal Mail has apologised after just 16 per cent of energy bill support scheme (EBSS) vouchers were delivered by post this December.
The company which has been crippled by strikes this month said sorry after cold Brits were left in the lurch, unable to get hold of energy metre vouchers.
Vouchers are claimed by customers of British Gas, EDF, E.ON, E.ON Next, Good Energy and Bulb at either post offices, or through PayPoint, which handle different energy firms.
More than seventy per cent of EBSS vouchers went unclaimed this month because they were not delivered, which PayPoint says was down to the recent postal strikes.
Posties in the CWU Union listed 10 strike dates between 24 November and Christmas Eve, with 100,000 workers downing tools, and causing chaos for consumers and especially small businesses.
According to data from PayPoint, just 16.6 per cent of post vouchers were redeemed in December, down from almost 75 per cent in November and nearly 80 per cent in October.
The data also shows that 76 per cent of vouchers issued were by post and just 24 per cent by email, meaning almost three-quarters of a million went without, according to estimates.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.
“Throughout the CWU’s strike action we have prioritised essential government mailings, and NHS letters for delivery. We are working with the appropriate Government departments to prioritise the processing and delivery of energy discount vouchers.”
The government’s BEIS department (Businesses, Energy and Industrial Strategy) told City AM: “We want to ensure everyone gets the energy support they’re entitled to which is why the Business Secretary wrote to suppliers earlier this month making clear that he expects them to improve their service to customers.
“When a voucher is not redeemed, suppliers must make at least three attempts to reach the customer, by more than one means which can include post, email and text message.
Corporate affairs and marketing director at PayPoint, Steve O’Neill, said while “we continue to see huge volumes of EBSS voucher redemptions across the UK as people take advantage of the scheme in the colder months.. December postal voucher redemptions are lower than we would expect, which could be linked to strike action in the UK causing delayed delivery.”
“Based on volumes, the most popular time of voucher redemption is between 12:00 and 13:00 on Saturdays. However, we see a consistent high level of redemptions across our network between 12:00 and 15:00 throughout the week. Tens of thousands of independent retailers are doing a fantastic job processing EBSS vouchers as early as 06:00 right through until midnight every day, thanks to their commitment to serving their local communities.”
Andrew Goddard, head of payments at Post Office, where consumers can redeem the vouchers, urged “anyone with a prepayment meter who has not yet claimed their October voucher to do so as quickly as possible or risk missing out on the financial support they are entitled to.
“Over a million vouchers for December have recently been issued and it’s vital that people carefully go through any bundles of mail that arrives during the Christmas and New Year period to avoid overlooking or mistakenly throwing away their December voucher.
“Customers of British Gas, EDF, E.ON, E.ON Next, Good Energy and Bulb can claim their October, November and December vouchers at any Post Office. Our branches are open throughout the Christmas period and many are even open on Christmas Day.
“It’s vital that people ensure their energy supplier holds their correct address so that they receive their voucher. We have been able to reissue 40,000 vouchers in October and November to people who got in touch with their energy provider, update their address details and are now receiving the monthly vouchers they are entitled to.”
The CWU has been asked for comment.