How to make a complaint about your energy supplier
I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow. Helen is a consumer rights blogger, journalist and author of bestseller How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! Should you ever need to make a complaint about your energy supplier, be sure to take Helen’s advice.
Utilities are probably the most complained about sector – energy in particular. Communications and service are often poor, to say nothing about major mistakes such as getting the wrong bills!
So what can you do when things go wrong? So many of us don’t know or give up when we get fobbed off. Here are some of my tips to help us gain the redress we are owed!
Write – don’t phone.
This means that you have your evidence and a communication trail should the matter need to go further.
In your correspondence, be clear, succinct and factual.
Provide your account number details. Be objective and bullet point/summarise the issues if your email/letter is very long.
Say what you want from the complaint, such as an apology, redress etc.
Tell them what you will do if you do not get a satisfactory response, such as going to the Energy Ombudsman.
Contact the CEO.
If serious, or the complaint has been going on for some time contact the CEO. Contact details can be found on the CEO Email website. The CEO won’t respond personally but it usually means that someone from the Executive Team will respond more swiftly and they will have more powers to resolve the matter quickly.
Know your rights!
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 protect you from being given misleading information. If you believe you have made a decision to use a supplier due to information that was not correct, it is a breach of this law. Quote it!
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. If you have received services that are not up to scratch, quote this law as they are in breach!
The big 6 companies must resolve a complaint within 8 weeks (12 for smaller ones). If it is not resolved within this time the supplier must produce a letter of deadlock. After 8 weeks since the initial complaint or with a letter of deadlock (which can be requested before the 8 weeks) you can take the matter to the Energy Ombudsman who will look at all the evidence and make a decision which the company must abide by.
Energy companies are bound by Ofgem Standards of Conduct. These cover three broad areas:
- Behaviour (be fair, transparent, honest, appropriate and professional.
- Information (complete, accurate, not misleading, plain and simple language, related to products and services appropriate to the customer and fair in content and presentation).
- Process (easy for customers to contact them, act promptly and courteously to put any mistakes right, customer service arrangements and processes complete, thorough and fit for purpose. There are then numerous conditions by which the companies must abide regarding tariffs.
Energy suppliers are signed up to Ofgem’s back billing principle. If the supplier is at fault for not sending you a bill for more than a year then usually you do not need to pay.
Look at changing your supplier on a yearly basis and if anything goes wrong in the transfer you can complain to either the new or the old supplier.
Over to you…
I hope you’ve enjoyed Helen’s extremely informative post, and that it will help you to resolve your complaint effectively, if you ever do need to make a complaint about your energy supplier.
Actually, I’ve had to complain about just the things Helen has mentioned in this post such as being sent the wrong bills as well as back billing, and more besides. Lots of us feel squeamish about complaining, so it certainly helps to have a consumer rights expert in your corner, doesn’t it?
Don’t forget to check out Helen’s book as well – if you’re facing down a Goliath of a company, this could be just the thing you need!