Are distributors doing enough to help vulnerable customers?

A recent report by the Fuel Poverty Action Group has called on fuel oil distributors to establish a priority register* for vulnerable customers
James Owen, S Owen and Sons, Shropshire
“We’ve noticed that many of our customers are ordering smaller quantities of oil as they’re struggling to pay for larger deliveries. We do have a lot of elderly customers who prefer to pay cash on delivery and we’re happy to accommodate them. Although we don’t advertise this fact, if a customer were to come to us and ask for £100 or £200 worth of fuel, we would do it as it spreads the cost for them and also means that we get paid on time.”
Kevin Bennetts, Consols Oils, Cornwall
“We always keep an eye open for vulnerable customers potentially in fuel poverty and do as much as we can to assist them which may, on occasions, mean a relaxation of very tight credit terms to accommodate them. We also actively encourage cash-strapped customers who are able, to come to the yard with four or five cans and fill them at a sensible price so that they purchase fuel in bite size chunks rather that incur a much larger bill for a bulk delivery that overwhelms their budget. As a result kerosene sales from the yard have increased considerably.”
John Cooper, Stevenage Oils, Hertfordshire
“As a smaller company we have a long relationship history with many of our customers, particularly our older and more vulnerable ones and we do try to be as flexible as we can with them.”
John Roberts, White Rose Fuels, Yorkshire
“Whilst we don’t have anything specific in place for our more vulnerable customers, we do offer all of our customers the option to spread payments across the year, using our budget payment plan. We’ve also done the odd emergency delivery for our longer standing, more vulnerable customers. We have one or two nursing homes on our books; they’re extremely loyal customers and we would always endeavour to get out to them quickly if the need arose.”