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OVO Energy ends Welsh language support

OVO Energy has announced the discontinuation of its Welsh language helpline, bills, and letters, redirecting Welsh-speaking customers to use Google Translate for communication. The decision, communicated through a letter to customers, states that starting March 8, letters and bills will no longer be translated into Welsh.

The correspondence suggests an alternative for customers, encouraging them to switch to email communication and use online translation services for Welsh translations. This alteration also extends to the elimination of the Welsh-speaking customer service telephone line.

Welsh language services at OVO Energy were previously handled by a team of three individuals. The Welsh language helpline was initiated in May 2013 under SSE, later transitioning to the OVO brand after the sale of SSE Energy Services in 2020.

Heledd Fychan MS, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for the Welsh Language and Culture, criticized OVO Energy, asserting that the decision treats Welsh speakers as “second-class citizens” and displays a lack of cultural and linguistic awareness. Fychan emphasized the importance of the Welsh Language Commissioner intervening to ensure the utility company upholds its responsibilities to Welsh citizens.

This development follows the recent closure of HSBC’s Welsh customer service line, citing a decrease in usage. Politicians appealed for reconsideration, but HSBC’s management deemed the decision final.

Responding to the backlash, an OVO spokesperson stated, “We’ve contacted the small number of customers who use this service to inform them of the change.” They outlined a phased removal plan, with Welsh translated bills ceasing in March and dedicated Welsh support available until the end of May. Afterward, customers can access bills through the app or request them in email format for online translation.

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