Ofgem slams energy companies' customer complaint handling

Ofgem slams energy companies' customer complaint handling

The energy regulator has demanded again that the industry shapes up.

Anna Jordan

Household money

Anna Jordan
Updated on 26 September 2014

Energy suppliers need to do more to improve their customer complaint handling procedures, says indsutry regulator Ofgem.

It has written to the CEOs of both the 'Big Six' and smaller independent suppliers about the industry-wide failure to handle complaints to a satisfactory standard.

Npower and Scottish Power fared the worst. Their customer complaints satisfaction has declined markedly since Ofgem’s last bi-annual complainant survey in 2012.

A Which? study released earlier this month found that Scottish Power and Npower came 99th and 100th respectively in a table for the best and worst brands for customer service in the UK. SSE came in 94th, although Ofgem said its study found that the company's customer satisfaction rating had not declined since its last survey.

However, generally there is increased dissatisfaction across the entire energy industry, including small suppliers. Over half (57% domestic and 52% small business customers) were not happy with the way their complaints were handled by their energy supplier.

Ofgem wants to see:

  • improvement in the speed of resolving complaints;
  • better communication with consumers during the complaint process;
  • more proactivity in resolving complaints.

Worryingly, nearly half of the cases which the supplier considered resolved were not considered resolved by the customer.

Many dissatisfied customers are tackling this by switching supplier. Nearly half had already switched or planned to because of a negative complaints experience.

Ofgem plans to bring the date of its next complainant survey to establish whether any of the improvements it's demanding have been implemented.

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How to complain

If you feel that your energy supplier has handled your situation badly, the best thing to do is make a formal complaint.

Firstly, sort out any documents relating to your complaint. This includes correspondence you’ve had with the company and the full names of the representatives you have spoken to. Email is the best way to complain as it’s much easier to keep a record of.

Outline the case clearly including dates and times, what you expect from your supplier to resolve the issue and enclose any relevant documents if your complaint is made by letter or email.

It’ll usually take about eight weeks for them to get back to you. If you and your supplier come to an impasse, get in touch with the Energy Ombudsman.

This independent body will listen to both sides of the dispute and make an impartial judgement on what action to take, if any.

It will then make sure that your supplier takes appropriate action based on their judgement.

Or you could take action by switching. Why not start by seeing if you could get cheaper gas and electricity tariffs via our energy comparison service?

Have you had problems complaining to your energy supplier? What did you do? Let us know in the Comments below.

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