As well as higher prices, energy customers are also facing poor customer service in many instances. The ‘Big Six’ energy firms, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE received four million complaints in 2011.
The majority of these focused on billing and meter problems, such as inaccurate meter readings and incorrect or missing bills.
However, 90% of these complaints remain unresolved simply because they are failing to reach the Ombudsman and this has seen millions of unhappy consumers lose out on compensation pay-outs averaging £125 per household.
So, if you have a gripe with your provider how exactly do you let them, and the Ombudsman, know about it? Here we look at the steps you should take to make that complaint.
Go to your energy provider
If you have a complaint on any aspect of the service you are receiving then you should first contact your energy provider to give them the chance to put things right.
Check the company’s website or any bills that you may have for details of its complaints procedure and take the necessary steps to complain, be that via the website, in writing or over the telephone.
If you are complaining via an email or letter then be sure to clearly mark the top of any correspondence with ‘Complaint’ and, if posting your complaint, it may be worth sending it via recorded delivery so you have confirmation that it has been received.
If you make a phone call to lodge your complaint, pull together all of the information you may need such as your customer reference number and details of when and how the problem occurred.
You should also take the name of the representative who dealt with your call and make a note of when the call was made and what was said.
The provider then has up to eight weeks to respond but you may receive an acknowledgement of your complaint within 48 hours.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint then you should get back in touch with your provider and ask how you can appeal the decision and escalate the complaint via their complaints handling procedure.
Go to the Ombudsman
If you are still dissatisfied with the decision that has been reached or there is no resolution after eight weeks then you should contact the Energy Ombudsman who will then investigate the complaint on your behalf.
The Ombudsman offers a free and independent service and can be contacted on 0845 055 0760 or via the website.
For further advice on you can contact Consumer Direct, a government-funded service that offers specific information on complaining to energy providers as well as templates for complaint letters.
Consumer Direct can be contacted on 08454 040506 or via the Direct.gov website.
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