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UK's Ofgem bans Economy Energy from taking on new customers

UK's Ofgem bans Economy Energy from taking on new customers
FILE PHOTO - The sun rises behind electricity pylons near Chester, northern England October 24, 2011. -
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Phil Noble(Reuters)
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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's energy market regulator Ofgem has banned independent supplier Economy Energy from taking on new customers until the company resolves its customer service issues.

Ofgem said it has enforced the ban because of a decline in Economy Energy’s customer service, the regulator said on Friday, citing the company's complaints-handling processes and standards as well as billing and payment procedures.

The ban will be in place for up to three months initially for Economy Energy to take steps to improve and expand its customer contact procedures via email and webchat, address billing and payment failures and issue customer refunds in a timely manner, Ofgem said.

The provisional order also prevents Economy Energy from requesting one-off payments and increasing direct debits.

If the company fails to make improvements within three months, Ofgem can extend the ban and revoke the supplier's licence if it fails to improve after that.

"Ofgem is taking action to protect customers from suffering more harm from the unacceptable level of customer service provided by Economy Energy," said Anthony Pygram, Ofgem's director of conduct and enforcement.

"We expect the supplier to take immediate action to rectify its failings or face having its ban extended."

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by David Goodman)

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