There may be times where you need to make a complaint about your energy supplier
. This guide offers common complaints that people make, as well as how to go about making a complaint.
Why would I want to make a complaint about my energy supplier?
There are various reasons that you might want to make an energy complaint. One could be issues with energy bills from the supplier. This could be about disputed account balance, disputed energy usage or delays in billing. For example, a ‘backbill’ is a ‘catch-up’ bill sent to you by your gas supplier when you have not been accurately charged for your energy usage.
There can also be problems with switching energy
suppliers that you may wish to complain about. These can include being switched by mistake (known as an ‘erroneous transfer’) and delays in the previous supplier refunding credit balances to customers.
Faults with your meter is another common complaint to energy suppliers, as well as poor customer service and miss-selling of services.
Step by Step guide on How to Complain About Your Energy Supplier
1. Contact the Energy Supplier
The first step when making a complaint is to contact the energy supplier directly. Each energy provider has a ‘complaints handling procedure’ which can be found on their website. With simple complaints, it can probably be solved over the phone, while more complicated complaints can be followed up with a letter or email. Citizens Advice provide template complaints letters that you can use. When contacting them, explain what the problem is and what you want the organisation to do.
Keep note of the details of the call (the date, who you spoke to and what was said), and include your account number in written correspondence, and the complaint number with any follow-up correspondences. Also, add photocopies or email attachments of relevant scans such as your bill, but keep the originals for your records. The provider should be able to solve the issue, and they may ask for more evidence or visit your home for a meter reading. The problem should be resolved within eight weeks.
2. Get Help from Citizens Advice
If your provider does not deal with your complaint effectively, contact Citizens Advice by post or phone through their helpline. They have an ‘Adviceguide’ which gives information about what your rights are and advice on what to do next, with a specific section for energy supplier complaints. Here is the website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Citizens Advice is a charity and cannot handle the complaint on your behalf unless you are deemed as part of a vulnerable customer group (such as low-income households, the elderly and those with limiting illnesses). They have the right to investigate customer complaints about threatened or actual disconnection and to investigate complaints from vulnerable consumers. They can also refer you to their Extra Help Unit if needed.
3. Contact the Energy Ombudsman
If you have complained to the supplier without the result you hoped for, contact the Energy Ombudsman for free, which handles matters related to both gas and electricity. An ombudsman is an impartial third party (independent of gas and electricity suppliers) who considers both sides of the case after a decision. They will contact you to discuss the main issues and what they believe is a reasonable resolution. Make sure you know the date you first complained before contacting them. They can help you take practical action, and get an apology, explanation or financial compensation from your supplier.
You can go to them if your complaint is with one of the ‘Big Six
’ energy suppliers and it has not been solved within eight weeks, or if you are with a smaller supplier and it has not been resolved within twelve weeks. Also, you can get help from the Energy Ombudsman if your energy provider tells you your complaint is ‘deadlocked’. If they sent a letter of deadlock, you have a year to take it to the Ombudsman. You can contact them by phone, post or email. You can access their website here: https://www.ombudsman-services.org/
The Energy Ombudsman is only allowed to deal with complaints about companies that are part of their scheme, so check the Ombudsman website to see if your provider is part of it. It should take them six to eight weeks to make a decision. If the decision is accepted then it becomes legally binding, and the supplier has 28 days to comply.