Ofgem has ordered upstart energy supplier Outfox the Market to pay the £600k it owes to the Feed-in Tariff scheme—or risk having its supply licence revoked.
The Feed-in Tarif scheme, administered by Ofgem, delivers payments to owners of small-scale renewable generators. It’s funded by a levy on energy suppliers, and Ofgem believes Outfox the Market is likely to miss the next deadline for payments.
Ofgem has issued Foxglove Energy Supply Ltd—which trades as Outfox the Market—with a provisional order compelling it to pay the £602,930 it owes to the scheme by today, 12 February 2020.
Outfox the Market has previously indicated that it will be unable to make that payment, for Year 10, quarter 3 of the Feed-in Tariff scheme, by the required date. It would therefore be in breach of its supply licence conditions and subject to a formal investigation by Ofgem for non-compliance. That investigation could result in Ofgem handing Outfox the market a penalty or possibly stripping it of its supply licence.
Outfox the Market said the supplier was “extremely disappointed” that Ofgem had made the provisional order public ahead of the payment deadline. It also disputed that it will miss the deadline.
“The payment due date for all energy suppliers is the 12th of February 2020,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“For Ofgem to issue a provisional order to Outfox the Market because it ‘believes Outfox the Market is likely to contravene “SLC” 33 is presumptive and ultimately inaccurate. There is absolutely no regulatory basis for Ofgem making this announcement publicly—potentially causing reputational damage to Outfox the Market for a payment that is not yet due.
“Outfox the Market has never missed any obligatory payments and are fully committed to satisfying all licencing conditions. Furthermore, the Levelisation Payment [for the Feed-in Tariff scheme] will be paid-in-full by the due date of 12th February 2020.”
Outfox the Market launched in September 2017 and quickly attracted a flurry of publicity—and energy switchers—with its cut-price tariffs. But this isn’t the first time the Leicester-based supplier has had to reassure customers it isn’t going bust.
Beleaguered by consumer complaints and scathing reviews on Trustpilot, the supplier took to its Facebook account in December 2018 to assure customers that rumours of its demise had been exaggerated.
“'Are you going bust?’” Outfox the Market listed as a questioned which "regularly pops up.” It responded emphatically: “No! It is no secret that the energy market is a difficult place, but we are a sustainable business with a long-term vision.”
Customers have complained that Outfox the Market has hiked their direct debits without explanation, failed to refund credit balances and resolve problems, and has been difficult to contact. Some joined a Facebook group “Outfox the Market Escapees” to voice their complaints—and then were then handed letters by the supplier threatening legal action.
Ofgem recorded a spike in customer complaints about Outfox the Market, filed with them, Citizens Advice and the Energy Ombudsman, in the first quarter of 2019, with 249 complaints per 10,000 customers. Complaints had dropped by the next quarter to 67 by the next quarter, comparable to other small suppliers.
Outfox the Market was recently ranked 19th out of 35 suppliers in Which’s annual customer satisfaction survey, with 67% of customers satisfied with their service.
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