As energy bills soar and winter temperatures start to plummet, Octopus Energy is providing a helping hand to some of the worst-affected customers during times of need. Several energy companies have come under the microscope in recent weeks, with many complaints flying in about customers getting treated unfairly, getting charged more than they should have or getting switched to more expensive plans. Some have even had their power cut off altogether as they struggle to fork out extra cash as prices soar. But against the backdrop of negative headlines, Octopus has made a heartwarming gesture to a grieving woman.
One woman, who shared her story with the Telegraph, got in touch with her energy provider after her husband of 47 years was sent home from hospital with a terminal illness, and no further treatment available. She feared additional energy usage would send her bills rocketing.
The unnamed customer rang the company to explain her situation, and shortly afterwards an email came through which notified her and her husband that they had been moved to a more favourable tariff until November 2023.
She wrote to The Telegraph: “We were already more than £100 in credit but with the new tariff backdated the sum was now more than £400 and as a further goodwill gesture Octopus had credited our account with a further £90. It also said a complimentary electric blanket had been ordered for us, which was now on its way.”
Octopus claims electric blankets can save customers from paying to heat an entire home. It costs under 3p an hour to keep a person warm with an electric blanket, while heating a whole home costs around £4.70 a day.
Ocotpus Energy has an energy efficiency scheme which offers electric blankets to customers who respond to an online tool asking a series of questions about their financial situation. Last year, the firm gave away 7,000 electric blankets, prioritising those who are struggling the most.
Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, chief product and marketing officer at Octopus Energy Group, said: “Octopus is determined to do all we can to help customers through the crisis. We’ve subsidised prices by over £100million, created the OctoAssist fund that’s directly helped over 50,000 customers with real cash assistance and helped 250,000 customers through our Winter Workout.
“We started sending electric blankets out to customers who qualified under our financial assessment scheme after one of our scientists highlighted the energy efficiency of ‘heating the human not the home’ – especially for those with limited mobility.
“This analysis proves just how much difference it makes – with savings of £300 this is perhaps the single biggest thing many people can do to stay warm affordably in these tough times.
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“This crisis is real – but alongside the government’s welcome support package, there is a lot that energy companies can do and Octopus will be relentless in finding ways to help.”
But the electirc blanket is not the only thing Octopus Energy gave to the greiving Telegraph reader.
She wrote to the publication: “To say I was taken aback by all this would be an understatement. However, there was more. Later that same week there was a knock at the door. It was someone from Octopus delivering a lovely box of flowers, wishing me and my husband all the best.”
Octopus Energy customers can also apply for direct financial support through the company’s Octo Assist fund. As bills soared, the company raised the fund to £15million as part of its campaign to help its customers that are struggling or worried about paying for energy this winter.
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It includes access to existing schemes, monetary support, and payment holidays. Free electric blankets and a loan of a thermal imagery camera to find any potential heat leaks in a property are also included.
To apply for the Octo Assist Fund, customers just need to fill out the financial support form online. It’s a simple tool that asks a series of questions about the customer’s financial situation.
This comes as energy bills are costing on average double the amount they were last year as Russia’s war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s supply cuts to Europe sent shockwaves through the volitile wholesale gas market.
Now, bills are will go up again in April as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the price cap for typical households will go from £2,500 to £3,000.