Categories
Laws

Your energy and your rights – what you should know

When you need to complain about your energy supply

energy

There 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.

 

 

Energy companies and Mis-selling

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. If you have made a purchasing decision you would not have made had you been given accurate information or not put under unfair pressure to do so  you’ve been misled and these laws protect you.

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

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.

Ofgem will not deal with individual complaints but provides guidance for energy suppliers.

Complaining to your energy company

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).

Top 20 tips for complaining effectively.

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

Priority Services Register

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.

Refunds

If your existing account is in credit you can ask for a refund. Ofgem says this should be paid promptly unless there are reasonable grounds not to do so.

Check the company’s policy for complaining refunds if you are in credit with an account you closed. Ofgem simply says suppliers must make efforts to return the money! There isn’t even a “promptly” guideline here! But the Energy Ombudsman or a court would expect it to be within a reasonable length of time! Whatever reasonable may be!

Meters

Ofgem provides a comprehensive guide for understanding meters and your rights  with various further links.

Other help and advice about energy

More about the importance of switching suppliers here.

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

Electricity pylon Everything you need to know to complain about energy problems

 

All you need to know to make a complaint about energy for just about everything you could need to complain about regarding energy.

 

 

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

Loads more about energy and lots of other sectors with information, advice, consumer rights and templates on how to complain in the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

Categories
Property

How to take charge of your home removal

Moving house is considered to be a very stressful experience. Following on from the story of the last week of the couple who hired a man with a van and lost all their possessions here’s how you can prevent that happening to you.

Once you have got past the stresses of dealing with estate agents, solicitors changes in dates and all the rest of it moving day finally comes. What can you do to ensure that moving goes as smoothly as possible and what to do if even after following sensible advice it still goes wrong?

Choosing a removal firm

The National Guild of Removers and Storers ensures its members are regulated and quality checked through the Removal Industrial Services Ombudsman Scheme.

The British Association of Removers is the relevant trade organisation. It has a Trading Standards Institute Code of Practice and an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. So, should you encounter problems and your removal firm is a member then you are able to use an arbitration scheme. You may like to check their website before deciding on a removal firm to give you peace of mind.

Remember a page on Facebook means nothing. All the reviews could be written by the firm. If recommended by a friend of a friend, this still may not be good enough especially if a friend of a friend on Facebook given how so many people have “friends” on Facebook that aren’t friends and are often people with whom they have never met or spoken.

Get more than one quote especially if you insist on using a non specialist removal service. If a quote sounds cheap remember if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Consumer rights when using a removal firm

When you have instructed a removal firm to move your possessions from one place to another you are covered (for services up to the 1st October) by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. From 1st October 2015 you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You can expect to receive services undertaken with reasonable skill and care. That means no damage and arrival at an agreed time. Should this not be the case then you have grounds to complain.

If any items get damaged you have the right to repair/replacement or sum of money covering the cost of replacement. You are also entitled to any out of pocket expenses you might incur due to damages of items or delay in timings of the removal.

Insurance when using a removal firm

Check your insurance. When moving from one place to another check that you are covered and by which company – the insurance at your old place or the new one. This may give you additional cover particularly for anything you might move yourself. The company should have its own insurance to cover any breakages.

What to do if things go wrong with a removal firm

Keep a list of everything. If you notice damage at the time of moving mention it to the staff and keep a record. Put your complaint in writing following the tips here. Outline all the damage and out of pocket expenses and what you want to put the matter right. Give a timescale for response. If not satisfied with the response you can go to the ombudsman as detailed above. You can also go to the Small Claims Court (even after using the ombudsman.)

 

Further help

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logoFor more information, guidance, tips, consumer laws, rights and template letters for complaining to most sectors about most things… GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!