Supporting Vulnerable Customers
How We Help
Providing a good service for everyone does not always mean providing the same service for everyone. Each year we invest around £0.5 million on support services specifically for more vulnerable customers.
There are over 20 tailored ways that we offer help and support to vulnerable customers.
When your power goes off
We provide extra support for customers with healthcare needs. Some customers have medical equipment in their homes, such as specialised mattresses, feeding systems or lifting equipment. These types of equipment need electricity. To support these customers, we have set up a Medical Customer Care Register. Anyone who uses electrical medical equipment can join this register. If you are on our Medical Customer Care Register and your electricity goes off, the following will happen.
You will speak directly to one of our team
We may not have much information about the cause or likely duration of the power cut when it first happens. We will call you back as soon as more information becomes available, or at an agreed time.
We will call you back with regular updates
If there is a power cut, we may not have much information about the cause or likely duration of the fault when it first happens. As soon as more information becomes available, or at an agreed time, we will call you back.
You can nominate an alternative contact
You can give us the details of a relative or friend we can contact if we cannot reach you.
Sign up for our Medical Customer Care Register
Our teams work across Northern Ireland to maintain or upgrade the electricity network or read meters. We use this as an opportunity to identify customers who may need extra support, and let them know what support is available.
When visiting customers’ properties
If a meter reader sees medical equipment when they visit a customer’s home, they will tell them about the Medical Customer Care Register. If the customer is interested in joining the register, our customer service team will call them to arrange this.
During planned electricity outages
So that our engineers can work safely, sometimes we need to turn off a customer’s electricity supply for a short time. If the customer is on our Medical Customer Care Register, our team will call that customer to make sure they know about the interruption and have a back-up plan in place.
Support from other organisations
Customers on our Medical Customer Care Register may also need support from other organisations. When we contact our customers, we tell them where they can find more information about the support available and how to sign up.
When you contact us
We have taken steps to make it as easy as possible to contact us. You can contact us by phone, email, letter or text message. You can also speak to our employees face-toface when they call to read your meter or sort out a problem with your electricity. We understand that some customers may need more time or support than others. Here’s how we help.
We are a ‘JAM Card friendly’ business
Being a JAM Card friendly business means that our teams have undergone training to help them support customers with learning difficulties, autism or communication barriers, by discreetly giving them ‘just a minute’.
Our customer service team is dementia friendly
Employees who answer your calls, letters or emails are trained as ‘Dementia Friends’ in order to recognise and help in small ways.
We will deal with your query quickly
We are committed to giving quick, effective answers. It can be confusing to repeat your query again and again. We will not ask you to do that. If the first person you speak to cannot sort the matter out, they will pass you to another colleague who can.
When you need different types of communication
We have adapted or improved some of the ways that customers can contact us to make them accessible for as many people as possible.
Most customers prefer to phone us. However, all the facilities that we offer over the phone, such as being able to report a power cut or receive an update, are also available on our website.
Customers with hearing or speech difficulties
We have a textphone service for customers who want to contact us but find it hard to use the phone.
Customers with reading difficulties
We have facilities on our website to increase text size, change the colour of the background or read text aloud..
Customers who do not use English as their first language
We have facilities on our website to translate information into over 90 different languages.
"We plan work on our network far in advance so that we can give our customers notice if we need to turn off their electricity. We always check and speak to customers on our Medical Customer Care Register. The advance notice also gives customers time to contact us if they have specific issues or if their circumstances have changed. For example, if there has been a death in the family or someone is just out of hospital. We will always try to help."
Network Access Manager
When we come to your home
Most electricity meters in Northern Ireland are inside homes. So we need to enter your property to read the meter and make sure it is safe.
Although anyone who calls at your home on our behalf has undergone safeguarding checks (checks of criminal records), we understand that you may have concerns about letting people into your home. Here’s what we are doing to reassure you.
1. PSNI Quick Check Scheme
When a meter reader or engineer comes to your home, you can ring the PSNI’s Quick Check 101 number to confirm they work at NIE Networks. The meter reader or engineer will wait for you to make the call or give you a card and come back later.
2. Password scheme
Our meter reader can give you a password, if you have agreed one with your electricity supplier, to prove they are genuine.
3. Appointment system
We can arrange appointments for reading your meter if you need extra time to give entry to your home or you would like to have someone with you.
More information on how we protect you from bogus callers