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What services are available to members with disabilities or for those in vulnerable situations?
At Utility Warehouse, we recognise that all members are different, with a wide range of needs, abilities and personal circumstances. Our focus is to ensure we provide a fair, flexible, and inclusive service which is appropriate to the needs of the member, irrespective of their particular situation: making it easier for all members to obtain information, access a service, or seek an effective resolution if something goes wrong.
A member may be in a vulnerable situation due to circumstances of age, physical or learning disability, physical or mental illness, low literacy, communications difficulties or changes in circumstances such as bereavement.
For more information please see our codes of practice here.
Members can let us know about any personal circumstances or characteristics that may lead them to be in a vulnerable situation:
- Call us 0333 777 0 777. We’re open Monday to Friday 9am - 5:30pm, and Saturday 9am - 4:30pm.
- Email us - click here to go to our webform.
- If you’re hearing or speech impaired, you can call our Textphone on 0333 003 5 643 or email email@example.com
- Write to us at: Member Services, Utility Warehouse, Network HQ, 508 Edgware Road, London, NW9 5AB
Each customer service adviser has been trained to identify the circumstances or characteristics that may lead to a vulnerable situation; the following list provides factors that may be used to identify and record vulnerability:
- Disability: the member, or a permanent member of the household, is disabled (including learning disabilities). For example, they have been identified as a person within the scope of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.
- Age: the member is of pensionable age.
- Capacity: the member is learning disabled, has speech impairments, a low level of literacy, or does not speak English fluently.
- Chronic illness: the member, or a permanent member of the household, suffers from long term ill-health (including mental ill-health).
- Circumstantial: the member has had a temporary change in circumstances which means that they are less likely to be able to access our services or be at risk of significant detriment. Such a change to circumstances may include bereavement, pregnancy or personal injury.
- Landline dependency: the member has a telecare system (lifeline alarm or similar); they use a textphone (text relay) on a fixed line; they are signed up to network controlled calling and/or 123 or 118 barring (or similar). Or they identify as having a disability or accessibility requirement that would indicate they are more reliant on their landline requiring a priority fault repair. Or they have a VOIP service with no back up if there is a power or network failure.
Each customer service adviser has been trained to recognise that members may find it difficult to disclose intimate details of personal circumstances or characteristics and to handle such situations with sensitivity, respect, and tact.
All relevant customer service and back office staff undergo an initial vulnerability training course. They will also have annual refresher training on vulnerability. Ongoing training, if required, can be identified through coaching and the quality assurance measures that we have in place. All relevant new members of staff will receive the vulnerability training as part of their induction training.
Text relay: Text Relay is a three way call involving a hearing or speech impaired person, a hearing person and an operator. The operator voices what the hearing or speech impaired person types to the hearing person and the operator types what the hearing person says to the hearing or speech impaired person. The member will need to dial one of these codes into their phone or textphone:
- for a text to text or text to voice call - dial 18001 then the full telephone number
- for a voice to text call - dial 18002 then the full telephone number
- to call the emergency services from a text phone - dial 18000 (they don't need to dial 999)
- There is no charge for a member using this service on their home phone.
- Hearing or speech impaired members can contact our member service department via text relay. Our customer service staff have been trained to work with text relay operatives. Alternatively, members can call our textphone service on 0333 003 5643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Generation Text Service: Hearing or speech impaired members, can also use the Next Generation Text Service. This works similarly to Text Relay but, instead of using a textphone, an app allows them to use a smartphone, tablet, or computer to make a phone call. For more information visit http://ngts.org.uk/. If a member is using the next generation text service application on their mobile, any data that's used over our network will come out of their allowance, if they're using wi-fi there wouldn't be a charge.
Free 195 directory enquiries: If a member isn't able to hold or read their phone because of sight loss or other disability, they can sign up for a free directory enquiries service. It doesn't matter what phone provider they're with. To sign up for this service, call 0800 587 0195 to ask for an application form. As well as filling in the details on the form, you'll need to have it countersigned from someone like a doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner who knows them before sending it off. Once you've signed up to the service, you can dial 195, from their phone, and speak to an operator who'll find the number they need.
Mobile SMS access to the emergency services: Hearing and speech impaired members can get in contact with the emergency services by sending a text message (SMS) on a mobile phone to 999 or 112. The message will be passed to the police, ambulance service, fire rescue, or coastguard who will be able to reply. To register text ‘register’ to 999, you will get a reply then follow the instructions you are sent.
Visual impairment: Visually impaired members can request written communications, including bills, in Braille or large print format. We can also provide bills in an audio format. These bills are read out loud and recorded onto CD. Please contact us to request bills or other written communication in an alternative format.
Third party bill management: Members can add an authorised third party to their account. Authorised third parties have the same level of account access as members and are able to provide members with help to manage bills, including:
- sending the bill to an alternative address (eg the authorised third party’s)
- paying the bill on the member’s behalf
- enquiring about any aspect of the bill including why it may not be paid
Authorised third parties are not liable for any aspect of the account including paying the member’s bill. Please contact us to add an authorised third party to an account.
Priority fault repair: Priority fault repair is a free service for members who rely on their Home Phone service (landline) for health and mobility reasons where a fault has led to total loss of service. If you’re eligible, you’ll get priority when you report such a fault to us. To ensure that this level of service is being delivered to those who really need it, we require them to meet certain criteria. To find out more, please contact us.
Complaints: Our complaints handling procedure is readily accessible to all members, and can be provided in a number of alternative formats, such as large print or braille, to ensure that members with disabilities are able to lodge and progress a complaint with ease.