One of the U.K.’s largest energy suppliers has been forced to say sowwy for sending customers what were supposed to be helpful tips for keeping heating bills down this winter, including some endearingly twee ones like cuddling for warmth and having a nice bowl of porridge.
OVO Energy recently emailed customers of SSE Energy Services (an energy retail business it acquired in 2020) a link to a company blog post containing 10 “simple and cost effective ways to keep warm this winter,” the Financial Times reports. The now-deleted post featured #warmthhacks such as:
- Enjoying “a cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy”
- Opening the curtains to let in sunshine and keeping the oven door open after cooking
- Eating ginger to encourage blood flow and complex carbohydrates like porridge to feel warmer and fuller longer
- Avoiding chili (“makes you sweat”) and alcohol (the “warming feeling from wine or whisky is temporary as you’ll soon lose heat from your core and end up feeling even colder”)
- Cleaning the house, hula-hooping with the kids, or doing some “star jumps” (this is British for “jumping jacks”) for movement
In any other circumstance, these might seem like pretty okay suggestions. Cuddling with a pet? I’m in! Oatmeal? Yum, yum, get in my tum! But coming from an energy supplier, in a time when Brits are dealing with skyrocketing energy bills and inflation highs, this comes across as, to quote an unnamed government figure speaking with the FT, “like some Dickensian nightmare.” Very “please, sir (OVO), may I please have some more (heat in my cold home)?”
OVO Energy quickly pretended it had acquired a soul in the wake of the controversy, saying in a statement:
We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year. We are working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis, and we recognise that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful. We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise.
The company told the BBC that it will “update” the blog post with “more meaningful information for customers.” Here’s a tip, from one blogger to another: Get out of the content game while you still can. Most of the time, it’s just better not to post.