Your energy and your rights – what you should know

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

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.

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!



By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

9 replies on “Your energy and your rights – what you should know”

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.

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 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

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.

What this article fails to acknowledge is that while energy suppliers are regulated in regards to mis-selling, selling agents and comparison sites are not. Energy companies are sub-contracting mis-selling to “trusted” comparison services which means you are not protected by industry regulations.

Ofgem’s supply licence conditions around treating customers fairly (SLC0) and supporting informed choices (SLC25) apply to suppliers “and any Representative”. Suppliers must treat customers fairly, no matter how they engage them, and this applies to third party online platforms working for them.
Once a consumer has signed up to a tariff with an energy supplier, the rules and supply licence conditions are the same, regardless of how the consumer signed up.

Ofgem has accredited a number of price comparison sites. These sites comply with a code of practice: The Confidence Code. This code of practice governs independent energy price comparison sites and how they operate their services. If you use an accredited website, you can be sure that the prices and options displayed have been calculated fairly in an unbiased way. A full list of accredited sites is available on their website.

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