Coronavirus: Helping you get your business up and running

[Information updated on 15.09.20 at 12:10pm]

Firstly, we’d like to thank you for your patience. Our phone lines have been extremely busy, which means that wait times are much longer than normal, so if you’d like to submit a meter read, pay a bill, reset your direct debit or report a fault with your telecom service, you can do this online at switchingon.com/customerzone, at a time that’s convenient to you.

If you need a call divert adding to your line or want it removing, no problem, simply click here and follow the onscreen instructions. You’ll really be helping by freeing up the phone lines, so we can help those customers who are vulnerable and need us most right now, so before you call:

  • Ask yourself: Do I need to speak to them today?
  • Think: Could I deal with this myself through Customer Zone?
  • Review: Is the answer already on the website?

Or you can email us instead at info@switchingon.com.

Many businesses are reopening their doors and welcoming back customers, and it’s great to see. There’s lots of things for you to do, so we’ve put together just a few simple hints and tips, which you can view here to help you with just some of the things that you need to remember to do.

Covid-19 Affected Customers

Due to the impact of coronavirus, Covid-19 Affected Customers’* shall not, for a limited period, in relation to bills or invoices for the supply of water and/or waste water services in England and Wales:

(a) Be served disconnection notices for the non-payment of such bills or invoices;
(b) Be subject to default interest or late payment charges for the non-payment of bills or invoices issued from 1 June 2020; and
(c) Be subject to enforcement proceedings for the non-payment of invoices.

* Covid-19 Affected Customer means any customer for whom all of the premises we supply with water services in England and Wales are Temporarily Vacant (i.e. not open or with a decrease of 95% or more in its usual activities due to Covid-19) unless we can prove their ability to pay is unaffected by Covid-19.

A copy of our full terms and conditions, can be found at switchingon.com/terms-and-pricing.

The above only applies whilst you are affected by Covid-19. Once you have resumed trading and are no longer set to Temporarily Vacant, you will then be eligible to apply for our Covid-19 Repayment Scheme if you’re struggling to pay your bills as a result of Covid-19. Details of the Scheme can be obtained by calling 0161 946 4446. Please be aware that if you are able to pay your bills on time, you should continue to do so.

From 31 July 2020, we can no longer (1) set premises to Temporarily Vacant or (2) leave premises as Temporarily Vacant. Any premises previously set to Temporarily Vacant have been or are being reversed to occupied. Some premises may have already been reversed to occupied if the government allowed them to reopen before 31st July 2020. If you are struggling to pay your bills you can still apply for our Covid-19 Repayment Scheme.

If your premises remains closed after 31st July 2020, we can only set your premises to vacant if all of the following apply:

(a) there is no physical occupation by any person, for any purpose, other than for the sole purpose of providing security services for the premises;
(b) the premises is not open or available to the public or visitors;
(c) there is no stock left in the premises, except where these items have been abandoned by a former tenant and the premises is not in use;
(d) there are no moveable items left on the premises such as furniture, equipment tools or moveable equipment or machinery; and
(e) any fixtures and fittings have been abandoned by a former tenant and the premises is not in use.

A property that is prohibited by law from being occupied, for example an unsafe property, is also considered to be vacant. Please note, this does not apply to properties closed by the government due to Covid-19.

If you believe your property meets the above criteria, please contact us on 0161 946 4446.

If you are a water customer in Scotland, please click here.

Requesting a Covid-19 test

Customers in England and Wales can now call a new three-digit 119 to request a Covid-19 test if they have symptoms and are unable to access the internet. Calls to 119 are free for customers.

For customers in England or Wales with an internet connection and for all customers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, a test can be requested via https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test.

Returning to work

There’s so much for you to remember to do when getting ready to open your doors again to your customers. Health and safety checks, risk assessments, cleaning and disinfecting, stock control and deliveries, being COVID-19 secure and returning staff who may have been furloughed. And that’s just a few things, so, we’ve put together some practical guidance on just a few things you need to do to get your business ‘customer ready’, including making sure your water is safe to use, checking your telephone and broadband services are ready to go so you don’t miss out on those vital calls and orders and checking your gas and electricity are working as expected. If you’d like to read more about our useful back to work hints and tips, simply click here.

Financial support

We understand that many of you are still concerned about the financial impact Coronavirus has had on you and your business, that’s why we’ve set out details of just some of the schemes that are available to you, including those announced by the government to help support you through this difficult time, such as the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, CBILS, Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme. More information can be found here.

Thank you for your continued loyalty. Stay safe.

Chris Earle
Chief Executive Officer

We’ve put together some frequently asked questions which you may find helpful.

1. My business is re-opening and I have call divert on. How do I remove this?

That’s great news, removing call divert is straightforward, simply click here and following the onscreen instructions and we’ll take care of the rest for you.

2. I’ve tried my telephone line and don’t have a dialling tone. Can you help me?

Yes of course. Many faults can be resolved by carrying out a few simple equipment checks.  In the first instance follow our handy troubleshooting guide at switchingon.com/telecoms-help.

If the fault persists, then you can report a telecom fault via Customer Zone by visiting switchingon.com/customerzone. If the fault relates to your broadband supply, please call one of the team on 0161 946 4444, and we’ll be happy to investigate that for you.

3. How can I ensure my bill accurately reflects my usage whilst I’ve been closed?

The best way to do this is to provide us with regular meter reads. You can do this by logging on to Customer Zone at switchingon.com/customerzone.  Alternatively, you can email us at meterread@switchingon.com, with the read followed by E: Electricity, G: Gas or W: Water. Remember, if you email us to quote your account number and the date the reading was taken. We’d recommend you provide your meter read on or around 25th of each month.

By providing regular meter reads, your bills will be as accurate as possible and ensures you only pay for what you’ve used.

4. Will my water/electric/gas meter be read?

Our meter readers have started to visit properties again. Where they have access to external meters they will take a reading as normal, if the meter is inside your property, they will need to be able to maintain social distancing measures to obtain the reading. If this isn’t possible, they will ask you to take the reading yourself and submit it.

The quickest and easiest way to provide us with a reading is to log on to Customer Zone at switchingon.com/customerzone.

5. My business is closing permanently, what do I need to do?

We’re very sorry to hear that. If you’re a sole trader or partnership, you will not be required to pay an early termination fee when you cease business, if you provide a recently issued letter confirming you have ceased to trade from any of the following: a firm of solicitors/a licensed insolvency practitioner/an accountancy firm, each of which must be registered with their respective regulatory authority. The letter must confirm you have ceased trading in all business capacities in which you were formally engaged.

6. I’ve got a power cut. What do I do?

If you have an electrical emergency or power outage, you should call 105.  For more information, please visit switchingon.com/emergencies.

7. I’ve got a gas leak. What do I do?

If you smell gas, think you have a gas leak, or are worried that fumes containing carbon monoxide are escaping from a gas appliance, please call the free Gas Emergency Services line immediately on 0800 111 999.

8. I’ve got a water leak. What do I do?

The wholesaler in your area will continue to provide an emergency response should you have an issue with your supply. If you know their number, you should ring them in the first instance. You will find this number on your bill, in your welcome pack and on your Customer Zone to help you remember in future. However, if you can’t access these, ring us on 0161 946 4444 and we’ll get in touch with them together.

9. I’ve cancelled my direct debit. How do I reset that up?

Paying by direct debit is the easiest way to pay your bills.  If you need to reset your direct debit, simply log on to Customer Zone at switchingon.com/customerzone, click onto ‘My Account’ and select Direct Debit from the dropdown menu. You can change your bank details or set up a new direct debit mandate.  Don’t worry, we’ll let you know how much we’re going to collect and when we’ll collect your payments on your monthly bills.

10. I’m struggling to pay my bills. Can you help me?

Our Collections team will be happy to discuss payment options with you. If you’d like to talk to one of the team, simply call 0161 946 4446. We’re here Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm.

Did you also know the government has many financial initiatives that you could also explore? More information is available here.

11. Can I pay my bills online?

Yes. Paying online is easy to do. Simply visit switchingon.com/customerzone, click on ‘Make a Payment’ and enter the amount you want to pay and your payment details. Please note, if you want to pay a lesser amount than your invoice, you’ll still need to call one of our team on 0161 946 4446.

12. I asked for a smart meter. When will this be installed?

To ensure the safety of our customers and install engineers, we’ve decided to temporarily pause the installation of new smart meters. When we can, we’ll be in touch to make arrangements for your installation to take place.

13. My business is critical, what can you do to help me?

We understand that some of our customers either work in the critical sectors listed by the government or supply services to third parties in those critical sectors. We can help you in a number of ways, including offering assistance with call diversion or providing additional support when you need it. Simply click HERE for more information.

14. I’m vulnerable and need help

That’s no problem. We’re prioritising the needs of our vulnerable customers and those who have lost service. If you, or someone on your behalf, needs to contact us, and you feel comfortable with telling us, simply let our advisor know that you’re a vulnerable customer and we’ll flag your account accordingly. We’ve put together our Treating Vulnerable Customers Fairly policy, which can be viewed HERE. The policy tells you some of the things we can do to help you during this time, including some of the products and services which are available to you.