Offer admits systems not ready for competition
Thursday 06 February 1997
Professor Stephen Littlechild also admitted for the first time that his original pounds 250m estimate for the cost of introducing competition could be much too low, which could mean higher bills for customers.
In the latest embarrassing disclosure about the progress towards competition, Professor Littlechild said his department, Offer, was working on several contingency plans if the regional power suppliers (RECs) failed to complete ambitious software projects. The industry is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in computer systems which talk to each other, enabling the RECs to log where customers move to when they switch suppliers.
Professor Littlechild insisted to MPs at the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee that competition would not end in the kind of problems which hit the commercial market in 1994. "Competition will take place and there won't be chaos," he promised.
However, in order to meet the six-month timetable, which would introduce competition nationwide using postal codes between April and September next year, suppliers may have to resort to some unorthodox ways of arranging customer transfers. "We're talking of manual systems to enable customers to change suppliers ... It won't be as cheap," he explained.
The most likely contingency plan was for customers who switched to receive bills from the new company, which would then settle up the cost behind the scenes in a temporary contract with the local REC.
"It's a sensible thing to have this fall-back position but it's an undesirable situation to be in. We hope it won't happen," said Tony Boorman, Offer's head of competition. "We're not talking about going back to the quill pen here. It's just that some of the companies may have to go back to their old computer systems."
One REC, Sweb, said last week it had postponed a pounds 35m customer computer project until 2000, blaming problems with introducing competition. Offer has appointed the PA Consulting group to manage the process, but many RECs privately say the timetable is ridiculously tight.
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
The unluckiest people of the year 2013
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of her marriage to Charles Saatchi
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
- 1 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
£60000 - £90000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with institutional client serv...
£120000 - £150000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Programme Manager, Strategy Lead...