Your energy and your rights – what you should know

energyThere have been many reports over the last few years regarding poor practice in the energy market, such as mis-sellling, putting people on the wrong tariffs and over charging. Companies are bound by the same laws as suppliers of other services and so consumers are covered in particular by The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and The Consumer Rights Directive 2013, protecting the consumer from misleading information and providing a 14 days cooling off period.

Following Ofgem investigations, if you have switched suppliers in the last couple of years with a company representative rather than online, you may have been mis-sold. It may be worth checking to see if the company has a compensation package

Ofgem is the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets, which supports the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA), the regulator of the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain. The Authority’s powers and duties are largely provided for in statute (such as the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989, the Utilities Act 2000, the Competition Act 1998, the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Energy Acts of 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011) as well as under rulings of European Community legislation in respect of energy regulation. GEMA oversees Ofgem’s work and provides strategic direction.

Energy suppliers must have a procedure for dealing with complaints. This should be available on their website or by telephoning them. The procedure should include names and contact details of all available sources of independent help, advice and information.

If you have a complaint about your electricity, contact the supplier in the first instance. If you think you are entitled to compensation, contact your regional electricity distributor within three months of getting your power back on (if they haven’t contacted you). Your regional electricity distributor may not be the same as the company that supplies you with electricity. There are fixed payments for various issues.

The big six companies must resolve a complaint within 8 weeks (12 weeks for smaller companies). The customer needs to be part of this process, providing any information requested. If it is not resolved within this time the supplier must produce a letter of deadlock. Once this is received the customer can take the complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. (In Northern Ireland, you should contact the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland).

The Priority Services Register is for vulnerable people (people who are of pensionable age, are registered disabled, have a hearing or visual impairment, or have long term ill- health) and includes lots of benefits including entitlement to a free annual gas check, priority reconnection and free advice. Register with your supplier.

More about the importance of switching suppliers here.

Here’s a story about getting compensation when the gas was cut off.

If you don’t get satisfaction from customer services contact the CEO, you can get the contact details for CEOs at ceoemail.com.

Loads more about energy with templates on how to complain in the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

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7 Responses to Your energy and your rights – what you should know

  1. Christine Rodrigues says:

    Just found this site. Thank you! I am in the process of switching from British Gas to npower.
    Where do I start…I am a dual fuel customer but n power have only set up an electricity account and my gas account will take 28 days. Nobody can tell me why. The old chestnut technical fault came up. Even though I have given n power my initial meter readings 4 times on line and on the phone they are going to estimate my bills. I can’t believe the incompetence of these cowboys. Or are they setting me up to rip me off. I think they are.

  2. Pingback: All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

  3. Js mcmillan says:

    BT the worst company ever,I went with them as they promised me the earth,sun,moon,& the sky.all I received is an Internet that won’t work with my equipment after 3 days I used the 14 day cooling off rights BTo refused their reason is your contract starts with BT the day you place your order,the equipment arrives 15 days later.you don’t have a cooling off period with BT THEY WILL NOT ALLOW YOU A COOLING OFF PERIOD BT now wants £700 from me for 2 weeks use of their Internet

  4. Eddie says:

    In response to an advertising flyer from a regular supplier I rang and ordered an oil burning heater for my workplace which was delivered late. I wasnt told on order or at delivery that I would need a local council licence costing over £1000 every yr to operate it. I feel i have been misled but the supplier is refusing to accept the return and says debt collectors or court proceedings will follow as I am refusing to pay. Can I return the heater on the grounds of misrepresentation. Thanks.

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