Have you reviewed your latest energy bill and are struggling to make the numbers add up? After speaking to your energy provider do you feel that the customer service you received was poor? Do your estimated meter readings grossly mismatch your actual meter readings? If you have answered yes to any of the questions above you may have considered making a complaint.
With the price of gas and electricity soaring over recent years it is not surprise that complaints to energy suppliers have followed suit. Quarterly data from Jan-March 2017 shows that approximately 65% of complaints to the Energy Ombudsman are related to billing issues. These include grievances over disputed bills, balance queries and disputes over gas or electricity usage. A smaller number of complaints are registered due to transfers, poor customer service and other issues. Below we have outlined the best strategy for making a successful complaint to your energy supplier.
First steps to making a complaint about your energy provider
The first step should be to complain to your energy provider directly. It can be tempting to complain to a higher authority first, especially if you feel that you have been treated unfairly but your first port of call should be the provider themselves. Check your energy supplier’s complaints procedure – you should be able to find this either on the supplier’s website or on your latest utility bill.
Methods of contacting your energy supplier
Often in the case of a small complaint a telephone call may be all that is required to come to a solution. Don’t forget to document the date and time of your calls plus the name of the call handler who you spoke to. You may need to refer to this information at a later date if your complaint remains unresolved. Check our our list of Energy Suppliers here to find the correct contact number.
If your complaint is more complex then you may prefer to send written correspondence. This correspondence may be in the form of a letter or an e-mail. Remember to quote important information such as your account number or a reference number if the complaint has previously been logged.
It can be helpful to include copies of supporting documents for example the bill in question. These documents can be scanned and attached to e-mail documents or sent by recorded delivery in paper format. Keep hold of your original documents – you may need them again as the complaint proceeds. The benefit of written correspondence is that it is easy to refer back to at a later point in time to avoid any “he said, she said” scenarios.
Getting help with your complaint
Ideally your complaint should be dealt with after this point. Most suppliers will aim to handle your complaint within a period of 8 weeks. Unfortunately in some situations there is no resolution at this stage. At this time you may wish to seek further advice. One option is to contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/).
The “Consumer” section of their website offers some advice on managing your energy supply. They provide useful information on understanding your energy bill, switching providers, making a complaint and much more. One of the great resources they include in their guidance is a complaints letter template.
Hopefully by this point you will have received a resolution to your complaint from you supplier. If you have not received a decision within 8 weeks or if you are unhappy with the outcome with your complaint then you may wish to take your grievances further.
What to do if you are unhappy with the response from your energy supplier
The final step in the complaints procedure would be contact the Energy Ombudsman. The ombudsman will act as an independent third party in the complaints process. Their role is to represent the interests of the public by investigating complaints and helping to mediate between the other parties involved i.e. the consumer and the service provider.
In order for your case to be reviewed by the Ombudsman you must make contact within 12 months of the response to your complaint from your energy supplier. The Ombudsman may ask the supplier to re-review your case. The Ombudsman could agree with the original response from your energy supplier.
On the other hand the Ombudsman may favour your argument and you could be entitled to financial compensation in some circumstances. If you are unhappy with the outcome from the ombudsman then you have the option of pursuing other avenues including taking your case to court.