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ENERGY

Danish energy provider temporarily shuts off phone lines as thousands call in

Danish energy provider Andel Energi on Friday switched off its incoming phone lines, saying that it was unable to cope with an extremely high volume of customers trying to get in touch.

Danish energy provider temporarily shuts off phone lines as thousands call in
Which provider works best for you? Photo by Jae Park on Unsplash

If you’ve been struggling to get through to Andel Energi with a question about your bill, you’re in good company. The energy firm on Friday closed its phone lines because of a long queue of callers.

The company said it had decided to switch off its phone lines on days when the number of calls exceeds a certain level.

Under normal services, the company’s phone line is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4pm, according to its website.

“We open our phone lines every morning as we usually do. We then answer all the calls we’re able to. We’re geared up to answer 4,500 customers a day, but at the moment we’re getting over 2,000 calls an hour,” Andel Energi’s press officer Rasmus Avnskjold told newswire Ritzau. 

“That means that when we open the phone lines every morning a queue builds up and almost everyone chooses the option to be called back when there’s an available member of staff,” he said.

Most callers are given the opportunity to request a ‘callback’ when a representative is available so they don’t spend hours on hold, and when that queue stretches past what Andel Energi figures they can handle in a day the line is closed, Avnskjold explained.

Customers are asked to call back the following day. 

A message was posted on the company’s website between Friday and Sunday stating that telephone lines were closed because maximum capacity had been reached.

According to Ritzau, the message could give the impression that the company had switched off its phones permanently. This is not the case, Avnskjold confirmed.

“We start afresh every day. The reason we close access to queues is to be able to cope with the many incoming calls on the same day. So we empty the queue each day,” he said.

The large number of calls received by Andel Energi is due in no small part to a winter aid package passed by Parliament on Friday. Companies are responsible for administration of a ‘price freeze’ scheme mandated in the political deal, which will allow customers to pay excess bills back over the next several years. 

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Andel Energi has around 1.2 million customers and considers itself to be Denmark’s largest energy company.

Several other Danish energy companies have hired extra staff in recent months, business media Finans reported on Friday.

Companies are being contacted by customers more often because of the energy situation in general, new payment options offered by companies and the new payment scheme announced by the government on Friday.

The government scheme takes effect from November 1st.

“We are in an extraordinary situation in which people are quite rightly more interested in their energy bills than they normally are, and that means more calls,” Avnskjold said.

“We are in the process of hiring and will continue to do that, but there is a training period before new staff can go in and answer calls,” he said.

Editor’s note: this article previously stated Andel Energi had switched off its phone lines on a Sunday. In fact, the company’s phone lines are normally open on weekdays only and the decision to stop incoming calls was made on a Friday. The error has been corrected.

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ENERGY

How to apply for Denmark’s 6,000 kroner energy relief if you were missed by automatic payments

Denmark last year sent an automatic 6,000-kroner payout to eligible households in a measure intended to relieve people struggling with high energy costs. People who think they may qualify for the money, but didn’t receive it, can soon apply.

How to apply for Denmark’s 6,000 kroner energy relief if you were missed by automatic payments

The tax-free cash payout of 6,000 kroner was approved by parliament last spring in response to rising energy prices and sent out in August to households which met the set criteria.

The payments were made automatically, so no application was needed at the time.

Households with a collective pre-tax income of under 706,000 kroner were eligible for the one-off cash boosts. Additionally, the household should be primarily heated by individual gas heaters (or have experienced similar increases to bills as such homes) or be located in a district heating area in which the heating is produced by at least 65 percent gas.

But errors in registration data could result in households which meet the criteria not receiving payments automatically, the Danish Energy Agency said at the time.

People who believe that their household meets the criteria, but have not received the money, can therefore apply for it from early 2023.

A significant number of people also received the money even though they did not fulfil the criteria, for example because they had replaced their gas boilers but the registration data on their homes was outdated.

READ ALSO: Up to 70 Danes offer to pay energy money back to government

An additional application round for the heating cheques opens on March 14th, according to a notice from Energy Minister Lars Aagaard to parliament’s energy committee.

“The vast majority of households which are entitled to the heating cheque have received the payment. Some households, which are entitled according to the law have meanwhile seen circumstances which mean they unfortunately didn’t receive the cheque automatically,” he wrote.

Specifically, the Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) will open a digital application platform via the website varmecheck.dk.

If your household did not receive the payout last year, you can apply for it if the household’s overall income in 2020 was less than 650,000 kroner (after the AM-bidrag tax contribution is deducted).

Application must be made within an eight-week window. You can enter your email address on the varmecheck website to receive a reminder when the application round opens.

“Reasons that households have not received the cheque automatically could for example be that there was data missing or not sufficiently ready for an automatic payment to happen, [or] that the oldest person in the household didn’t have a Nemkonto [designated bank account, ed.] for the money to be paid into,” Aagaard wrote in the parliamentary note.

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