Utilities Nightmare taking my time?

Utilities Nightmare taking my time?

9:40 AM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago 10

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Does anyone have any words of wisdom on reducing the pain around dealing with utility companies? I have a small portfolio of HMOs, single lets and serviced accommodation held in a limited company.

For the HMOs and serviced accommodation we pay the utilities, but many providers will not allow a domestic account to be registered in the Limited company name. One even tried to say that because the bill was in a company name it was a commercial supply and would be subject to VAT at 20%. I have tried the usual suspects, and they all seem as bad as each other.

Most of the properties have some ongoing dispute where the billing has gone wrong, or the direct debit has taken too much money. Any call to their contacts centres usually takes an hour and may have to be repeated multiple times before the issue is resolved. The net effect is that dealing with utility companies is now taking up huge amounts of my time.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a company or broker that can take this pain away and be more joined-up, maybe even producing one a bill month for all the gas and electricity?

Many thanks

Luke



Comments

by Paul Arnold

10:35 AM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago

I've been going through the same problems and have wasted hours of my time on what should have been simple things to sort out.
I've recently put most of my HMO's through a broker so they find the best deals each year and have the fun of dealing with the power companies.
Still have a few problems getting the initial switch over on a couple of properties but hopefully then I can forget about it and leave it all to the broker.
I'm sure there are other brokers out there but I've found Love Energy to be good.

by silversurfer2017

10:38 AM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago

A couple of suggestions.
1. Register the utility accounts in the personal name(s) of one (or more) of the directors. Eg. one director for gas, one for electricity and one for water.
2. Look at Trustpilot and see how suppliers are rated for customer service. (I presume service is more important to you than the cost). Try some of the smaller companies like Octopus and explain that if they play ball they can have all your business

by Gunga Din

11:00 AM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago

One thing I'd advise is to get assertive with the suppliers, and tell them what you will pay for, rather than allowing them to dictate to you. Make your complaint via their online message facility, tell them what the consumption was, what you think the DD amount should be and just wait for them to reply. Meanwhile, cancel the DD (telling them you've done so) until they comply with your demands.

Utilities' phone agents usually do a good job dealing with residential owner/occupier situations but not with the complexities of a LL dealing with multiple rental properties with voids.

by Andrew Miller

12:31 PM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago

I have become a UW Partner and put all our HMO utilities through them. We earn from our own bills but that's not the main reason for using them. Their systems are good and bills plain and easy to understand. Call or message me on 07785 948851 if you'd like to know more.

by Jo Westlake

14:15 PM, 2nd August 2021, About 3 months ago

I've just had a look at the electric accounts I had for a property owned by my limited company and it appears Octopus were happy to put the company name as account holder whereas Symbio put my name as account holder. Either way the bills were paid by the limited company.

I own most of my properties in my personal name so the utility accounts are in my name for those. Dealing with utility companies does take up a staggering amount of time. Researching the best deals, researching how best to apply for those deals (which comparison site to use or go direct), who offers cashback or recommend a friend incentives. Then submitting meter readings on the correct day for switching and getting accounts linked onto one log in. Then dealing with incessant communications about smart meters or submitting meter readings every month and arguing about getting excessive credit balances refunded. It's much harder work than it should be but can save £300 plus per house per year.

by Martin Riddle

16:02 PM, 7th August 2021, About 3 months ago

I have a similar set up and have changed all of the meters to "smart meters". Took some time and broken appointments etc but all are now done. I now use Octopus for all of my Gas/Electric supplies. It is all managed totally online and you get monthly or quarterly bills, whatever is your preference. They are not the cheapest but not the most expensive. Their Customer service is excellent and I do it all online and only had to call once with only 2 minutes on hold! My office time dealing with these issues has reduced from 3 or 4 hours a month to 30 mins at the most - Great!!

by Jackie Wright

9:00 AM, 9th August 2021, About 3 months ago

There are a couple of things that might help. 1. If you are on residential tariffs for HMOs and serviced lets, then changing to commercial will at least settle your accounts for a fixed period and could save you up to about 20% 2. My broker can manage both procurement of contracts with ability to go to the whole of the market, co-alignment of contract dates which will make life easier, ongoing administration and support with problems and tenant re-charging - their service is free to the client. Happy to discuss if you would like to email jackie@jackiewright.co.uk

by Angela Inventories

19:31 PM, 9th August 2021, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Andrew Miller at 02/08/2021 - 12:31
I can't believe you're serious. Utility Warehouse make promises they have no intention of keeping and regularly increase their charges almost as soon as you sign up. Having been told my signal was fine when I signed up, it was very soon apparent it wasn't and when I complained I was sent a signal booster for which I pay £1.67 a month. I still regularly have poor signal, can't use my Kindle or 'phone unless I'm standing next to the modem. I also bought into their "cashback card". What a load of rubbish, I am now charged £2 a month (started at one, and wasn't notified it was going up) for the privilege of being in credit on this card and have been trying to cancel it and stop the charge for two years. The only time I got a call from Uw was recently when I messaged asking what (if any) penalties I would incur if I changed supplier. The call was to try and get me to stay. I told them how rubbish they were and could they sort out the above problems - not interested and still ongoing. I was also told they would charge me £10 for collection of the modem. I pointed out I had paid £20 for it so it was mine and they couldn't charge me for it. "Oh ok" was the response. Pyramid selling in a very flimsy disguise. UW need to deliver what they promise and stop conning people, they've gained a dreadful reputation now people have more experience of them.

by Simon Patterson

15:35 PM, 10th August 2021, About 3 months ago

I put a detailed response as to a great solution - using a provider such as ubundle, and my post was removed... not sure why?

by Andrew Miller

22:15 PM, 11th August 2021, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Angela Inventories at 09/08/2021 - 19:31
Angela, I am sorry your service from UW has been poor. I have 8 HMOs with them for gas, electric and broadband, plus my own home and various SIM cards. Prices are competitive and they have always delivered on everything promised. Broadband technical support was brilliant when I had an outage. However, I buy the fastest service they can offer and the best router they supply. I also save around £30 a month using the cashback card for everyday purchases. 3% at Sainsburys! Works really well for me.


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