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