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MSE News: Symbio Energy rapped over 'threatening' response to negative reviews

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MSE_AndrewMSE_Andrew MSE Staff
132 posts
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MSE Staff

Symbio Energy has been hit with a formal warning from review website Trustpilot, after MoneySavingExpert.com brought to its attention the way the supplier responds to negative reviews. 

Read the full story:
'Symbio Energy rapped over 'threatening' response to negative reviews'

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  • TiVo_LadTiVo_Lad Forumite
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    Perhaps I'm lucky, but I've not had any issues with Symbio or their billing. I send them a meter reading on the last day of every month and then the following day (sometimes sooner) I get a bill based on the read that I've submitted. True their approach is unorthodox, but it seems to work. Perhaps if people are submitting their reads too late in the billing cycle, that's why it's apparently "ignored", whereas they probably do take it into account when reconciling usage the following month.

    I may have a different perspective if something goes wrong, but after nearly six months, it's been fine.
  • edited 4 May at 2:03PM
    niktheguruniktheguru Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 2:03PM
    What I find slightly comical about the article is the "responses" from symbio to the moneysavingexpert journalists, which were essentially mostly soundbites from their generic trustpilot review response, and other than symbio stating the excuse of covid (yet again - which perhaps at the moment is very relevant in India, but less so 6-8 months ago when these problems were still occurring) we didn't uncover any new information here.

    It would have perhaps been more useful if the moneysavingexpert journalist actually used examples from their own forums to ask specific questions to symbio.
  • btr30btr30 Forumite
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    TiVo_Lad said:
    Perhaps I'm lucky, but I've not had any issues with Symbio or their billing. I send them a meter reading on the last day of every month and then the following day (sometimes sooner) I get a bill based on the read that I've submitted. True their approach is unorthodox, but it seems to work. Perhaps if people are submitting their reads too late in the billing cycle, that's why it's apparently "ignored", whereas they probably do take it into account when reconciling usage the following month.

    I may have a different perspective if something goes wrong, but after nearly six months, it's been fine.
    This has been my experience too. Must admit to not having high expectations when I switched to them in December 2020, but with low price fix for 18 months seemed a risk worth taking.
    No issues to date with accurate bills received following receipt of online meter reading.
  • cannugec5cannugec5 Forumite
    121 posts
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    I too am, so far very happy with Symbio. 
    Their online ‘bills’ are hard to grasp but the PDFs are quite clear. I am paying by fixed direct debit, £20 per month less than with my previous supplier, and am still building up a credit which will obviously help in the winter months, when usage increases . Like others I am meticulous at submitting a reading on the last day of the month, and it is reflected in the bill. I also keep my own spreadsheet of readings, because that is something I find helpful, and to be honest because I predicted problems with Symbio.
    so far so good...
  • edited 5 May at 11:10AM
    Mister_GMister_G Forumite
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    edited 5 May at 11:10AM
    Another satisfied customer here.  So much so that I renewed for another year back in February. 

    Yes, their billing system is rather strange but I've always ended up by the end of the year paying exactly for what I've used.  At 12.5p/unit, on a 1 year fix, what's not to like!
  • MoneySavingNoviceMoneySavingNovice Forumite
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    I was astonished by how Symbio Energy are replying to these reviews,   even after the negative publicity and the 'formal cease and desist notice' which was sent by Trust Pilot.
    One of the posters on Trust Pilot responded to their reply following his initial post.  I feel he summed up my view very well:-
    Jeremy Klein said: 
    .......can now add to this message in response to the company's reply. Symbio says "We note that you have not followed the official complaints procedure and have chosen this forum to voice your complaint". This is incorrect. I have indeed followed the complaints procedure. However Symbio has failed to reply to my complaints in a timely manner and failed to make any meaningful attempt to address the matters raised. I have repeatedly asked for an explanation as to why they have estimated consumption far in excess of either 1/12 of the estimated annual consumption or the previous month's actual. I now know - thanks to Trustpilot - that my experience is entirely typical.

    Furthermore, to suggest that my comments are a form of cyberbullying is ironic considering that its own reply is a form of cyberbullying, breaks Trustpilot's policies, and in this case is actually dishonest. Let me be clear. Symbio's statement that I "have not followed the official complaints procedure" is provably false.

    If there were any more proof needed that this company is amateurish to its core, one only need look at its replies on Trustpilot. What a disastrous social media strategy - to intimidate and insult its customers. One day, when Symbio has folded, commentators will use this as a case study as how not to handle social media. Guaranteed.
    Note the response to the initial post was made by Symbio Energy on the 5th May at c.18:00   and the reply, as copied above, was made on the same date at c.20:00.  Both after the date and time of the 'formal cease and desist notice'
    Thank you Jeremy for your comment and I hope that you don't mind me copying it here.
    For information Symbio's reply to Jeremy was as follows:-

    Dear Customer,
    Thank you for taking the time to make your comments on this public forum.
    We note that you have not followed the official complaints procedure and have chosen this forum to voice your complaint. This is unfortunate.
    Customers who choose to use public social media to denigrate a company are engaged in a form of Cyberbullying and its not something that Symbio Energy engages in. Our customer service team will be in touch with yourself to resolve any queries amicably.
    Due to the on-going pandemic, our phone lines are busier than usual. We are currently working with limited staff and we will try our best to resolve the queries promptly.
    As a company, safeguarding the health of our employees and their families is of utmost importance. We are doing our best to maintain a healthy balance between our employees and our customers during these times.
    Symbio Energy has been the lowest-cost energy provider in the UK since March 2019. We have saved UK customers millions of pounds a year. This is achieved as we partner with our customers and we work with our customers for the betterment of each other. The name Symbio is a contraction of 'Symbiosis'. Symbiosis is where two parts work for the mutual benefit of each party.

    It is evident that we have let you down but are equally disappointed that as a valuable partner you should feel the need to use this platform in the first instance. We hope we can remedy our relationship. If not we will assist you in finding the best possible energy partner for you who meets your expectations.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55981600
    https://apple.news/AsGfqZaz2RXGkbFfonYtPcA
    We cannot and do not countenance corporate cyberbullying which is an increasingly unpleasant social phenomenon.
    Thanks,
    Symbio Team
    I agree with Symbio on their statement 'not countenance corporate cyberbullying'  but it does raise the question what are you complaining about something you are very clearly guilty of?

  • rp1974rp1974 Forumite
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    Much like the accusations Symbio aimed at OFGEM,their responses on Trustpilot defy belief.
    It seems as though they decided to go very much on the offensive for whatever reasons best known to themselves instead of just saying nothing,a quite spectacular own goal.
    I pay little heed to postings on Trustpilot generally,but when there's hundreds all saying very similar things with that scandalous Symbio reply as a response then maybe they have a point.
  • UnclaimedEnergyUnclaimedEnergy Forumite
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    It's all in the detail of what's being said.

    Generic "best supplier ever" or "worst supplier, avoid" I just skip past. However when you have so many 1 star reviews with slightly different versions of the same story, it's hard to ignore.
  • bagand96bagand96 Forumite
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    Proof, if it was needed, how useless TrustPilot is.  Big banner at the top of the TrustPilot Symbio page explaining the "formal cease and decist notice" due to breaching of guidelines...

    Yet Symbio are still posting their copy and paste nonsensical replies and they are still there for all to see!

    Agree with the others that Symbio's response to MSE is pathetic, like most of their responses to their customers.  There's not many companies I'd refuse to do business with but I've seen enough about Symbio to know they are one of them.
  • hd216hd216 Forumite
    36 posts
    Sixth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    When you don't have issues they're fine, but the moment there's a problem they are the devil to deal with. Yes they certainly do provide cheap electricity, but it definitely seems to come at a cost and that's clearly in the customer services and common sense departments. There's no arguing that the billing can be confusing because of the whole month-in-advance thing, and yes it does reconcile after a while; but when a company starts over estimating your electricity usage to the tune of some 400KWh each month, despite supplying meter readings, it starts to get a little tiresome. The final kick in the teeth is their policy of blocking switches away from them because they tell you that there is a "debt" on the account. You're held to ransom to pay a month in advance to continue the switch, only for them to (hopefully!) refund the advanced months payment - its a ridiculous policy!
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