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Energy company axes Welsh language services telling customers to use Google translate instead

22 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Ovo Energy

Emily Price

A major energy provider will scrap its Welsh language helpline, bills and letters – instructing Welsh speaking customers to use Google translate instead.

A letter sent out to Ovo Energy customers states that the energy provider is “sorry” but from March 8 letters and bills will “no longer be translated into Welsh”.

It goes on to tell customers: “You can switch to getting emails and translate your communication into Welsh.”

The letter then instructs Welsh speaking customers to use the online translation service Goggle translate.

Telephone line

The energy provider will also axe its Welsh speaking customer service telephone line.

Nation.Cymru understands Welsh language services at the energy provider were being staffed by a team of three people.

The Welsh language line first went live in May 2013 under SSE which eventually moved to the OVO brand following the sale of SSE Energy Services to OVO Energy in 2020.

‘Tone deaf’

Heledd Fychan MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for the Welsh Language and Culture, says the energy provider was treating Welsh speakers like “second class citizens”.

She said: “This decision by OVO, and the actions that they have taken, show a severe lack of cultural and linguistic awareness. It is tone deaf and sets the cause of the language back decades.

“Despite having a Welsh Language Commissioner and Welsh language rights, this company thinks that it is ok to treat Welsh speakers like second class citizens.

“It is absolutely outrageous – not to mention offensive – that they are suggesting customers put their bills through Google Translate in order to read them in Welsh.

“The Welsh Language Commissioner must step in to make sure that this essential utility company is aware of its duties to people in Wales.”

Ovo’s decision comes shortly after the closure of HSBC’s Welsh customer service line after the bank claimed that there had been a drop in users.

Urgent calls were made by politicians calling for HSBC to reconsider – but the bank’s bosses said the decision was “final”.

Queries

An OVO spokesperson said: “We’ve contacted the small number of customers who use this service to inform them of the change. We’ll be phasing out the removal of this service, with Welsh translated bills stopping from March, and dedicated Welsh support in place to help with any customer queries until the end of May.

“After this time, customers will have the option to access their bills through the app or request their bills in email format, to allow them to use online translation tools. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

‘Dissapointing’

In response Efa Gruffudd Jones, Welsh Language Commissioner, said: “It is disappointing to hear that OVO Energy intends to discontinue the Welsh language telephone service and that no correspondence will be issued in Welsh from now on.

“We have previously conducted a Standards investigation into energy companies and presented the report to Welsh Government for consideration with regards to bringing these companies under the Welsh Language Standards.

“I will now be contacting OVO Energy asking to meet urgently to discuss the situation in the hope that they will be prepared to consider other options, while also reminding them of their duties to their customers within Wales.

“As part of our ongoing work and the current co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru we look forward to bringing more bodies under the Welsh Language Standards before the end of this Senedd term, notably water providers, housing associations and rail companies.”


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Ianto
Ianto
1 month ago

We need to tell them “ewch i grafu”, and to put that through Google mistranslate.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Rheswm arall dros rhoi blaen troed i’r cwmnïau mawrion rheibus rhywngwaldol ac i gael rhwydwaith ynni cymunedol go iawn i Gymru. Dewch one Lywodraeth Cymru. Mae gennym genedl i’w chodi a gwlad i’w hadeiladu.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

I’ve hated OVO ever since they were forced on me but I’m afraid to switch in case that comes with a mandatory smart meter which they continue to try and impose on me. I just pay their exorbitant bills and don’t speak to them.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

I think it was OVO that took over parts of the SSE operations, SSE having previously acquired the operations of SWEB the original South Wales Electricity business. Now SWEB would operate under the rules of the time relating to language services but as ownership becomes more remote the current owners see no good reason to observe such rules. Taking their cue from HSBC. If this isn’t clamped soon there will be a rush of big businesses waving 2 fingers at our language.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
1 month ago

OVO is the worst energy company of all! Absolutes thieves! They stole money off me last year…..I complained to the Ombudsman……they made them refund me & made them pay me a £75 bonus too…..after about 12 months effort.

I would advise everyone to move away from these Crooks!!!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

This is totally unacceptable and against the Welsh language act where companies & organisations must follow a legally binding framework ensuring that the Welsh language is treated no less favourably than English.

And this question must be asked. What is our First Minister Mark Drakeford and Welsh language commissioner Efa Gruffudd Jones doing to take those companies, banks and utility firms to task when they blatantly show discrimination and arrogantly flout Welsh law?

Nia James
Nia James
1 month ago

The Anglicisation and Britification of Wales continues apace. The Welsh Government should be demanding action to restore this service but they are too busy tearing apart our rural economy.

Riki
Riki
1 month ago
Reply to  Nia James

Anglicisation is the historically correct term as the Britons (British) people are now known as Welsh in the Anglo language.

karl
karl
1 month ago

Ban them from trading here then. They like so many are ignoring our rules.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

I’m a customer and never knew they had a Welsh service 🤔

anon
anon
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard E

because they never a) told welsh speaking customers about it when it went over from SSE or b) advertised on their webiste

Steph Richards
Steph Richards
1 month ago

I didn’t even know there was a Welsh language service .. they clearly haven’t published it very well… Wouldn’t it have been nice if they informed their customers at the beginning that they offer a Welsh language service. I would definitely use it. Another example of us having to ask for services. I think it’s disgusting they can’t even be bothered considering the profits they make.

anon
anon
1 month ago
Reply to  Steph Richards

I am putting a complaint in I would recommend everyone does

anon
anon
1 month ago

if you are disgusted with this I would encourage everyone (welsh speaking or not to pt a complaint in)

margret Jones
margret Jones
1 month ago

I have just been on the phone to ovo
first person said they didnt have a welsh lang line, but finally found it
0345 070 7384

Gruff
Gruff
1 month ago

How do I translate this article into Welsh? I can’t seem to find the button?

margret Jones
margret Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Gruff

it is on the golwg site

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

I’m with ovo and will be putting in a complaint.

I will be telling them if they do this I will be switching energy provider and I would hope others would do the same.

If they want our custom then respect us!

margret Jones
margret Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

0345 070 7384 is the welsh lang line


margret Jones
margret Jones
1 month ago

0345 070 7384 welsh language line get thoese complaints in

Dafydd ap Gryfydd
Dafydd ap Gryfydd
1 month ago

I’m sure the 3 people in Wales who only speak Welsh will manage.

The rest this will have absolutely no impact on.

Unlike the Welsh assembly talking shop, they don’t have limitless money to fritter away on pet projects which benefit nobody.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago

The Welsh assembly no longer exists. It hasn’t done so for a while.

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