How to complain to your energy supplier
If you're unhappy with the service you're receiving from your energy supplier, what can you do?
Price hikes, mis-selling, and inaccurate billing
Price increases, mis-sold contracts and incorrect bills are three major areas of complaint.
The final three months of 2011* saw a universal increase in complaints about energy suppliers in the UK, many of these relating to rising energy bills. Following price rises in 2011, February 2012 saw the six biggest energy suppliers announce that they will reduce either their gas or electricity prices by around 5% – which may help to reduce the number of price-related complaints.
Energy mis-selling is another big problem, with customers persuaded to move onto a particular tariff on the premise that it will save them money, only to discover that it actually ends up costing them more than their original set-up. And it may not be easy to switch back if you are 'locked in' to your tariff due to exit fees (charges imposed if you choose to leave the tariff).
Other customers receive an incorrect bill from their energy supplier, whether it's down to a faulty meter or an administrative error.
Is it worth complaining to your energy supplier?
If you have a complaint, your supplier may be able to put things right. They may be able to amend an incorrect bill straight away. You may be able to get a refund on any missed savings, or even a compensation payout, which could be anything from around £150 up to several thousand pounds. If you have good reason to be unhappy with the service you're receiving from your energy supplier, it is worth contacting them.
How do you go about it?
First you should complain directly to your supplier:
- Call your supplier's customer services number to explain your query within 12 months of spotting the problem. Keep calm, explain the problem in a rational manner, and be as clear as possible. Your supplier may be able to resole the problem there and then.
- Have any necessary paperwork to hand so that you can provide all the information they need, particularly any relevant figures such as meter readings or bill breakdowns.
- If the issue takes longer to resolve, you may have to speak to the customer complaints department. If the process involves further calls and correspondence, document everything at each stage, keeping detailed notes and any letters or emails.
Their service is independent and completely free. You can use their online complaints tool, or phone 0330 440 1624 or 01925 530263 to start your complaint. The EO can look at complaints within nine months of you first noticing the problem, and if you accept their decision, then the supplier has to accept it as well. This decision could simply state that the supplier has to apologise, or provide an explanation for the problem, but it could request that they carry out a service for you, or even compensate you.
When you contact them, you will need to give them:
- The date you first complained.
- Details of what you and the energy supplier have done about the problem to date.
- A description of what you would expect as a resolution to the problem.
- Details of any relevant figures to justify a refund or compensation, if you are asking for this.