How to complain about your energy supplier

There are nearly 30 million households spread across the UK and almost all of them depend on an energy supplier. This could be for gas, electric or oil as well as a whole host of alternative and modern fuels. Whatever it is that you use in your home, the common theme will be a reliance on that service. For most of us, turning on the lights or cranking up the heating is something we do almost without thinking. When it goes wrong however, the inconvenience caused can quickly become unbearable.

What problems do people usually complain about?

Supplying such a large number of households is a mammoth task. The sheer scale of the various UK networks makes it inevitable that not everyone will receive a seamless service all of the time. Although we do have dedicated 24/7 teams to manage systems and react to any problems, outages are still possible and will affect households from time to time. When these problems become frequent, or when upgrades have not worked out, localised complaints to network operator’s spike.

The UK is also fortunate to have a competitive energy market. The traditional big players such as British Gas have seen an ever-increasing number of competitors enter the market.

Of the largest 8 energy suppliers, OVO has been the most complained about supplier for 2020. This is likely to be down to a recent buyout of rival SSE. A large increase in customers is likely to see a proportionate rise in complaints. Over the last 5 years, the largest company, British Gas, has seen the largest volume of complaints. Common complaints range from higher-than-expected bills, smart meters turned dumb, and problems when switching between suppliers.

How to make a complaint

If you are not happy with the service provided then you should absolutely complain about it. The best place to start is with your service provider. Contacting your energy supplier directly will provide a chance to have your issues dealt with informally. If they are not responsible for your problem, they will still be able to point you in the right direction.

Making a few preparations before you get in touch will help you to get your point across more clearly and help make sure that you don’t forget to mention something. Make a note of your problem along with any supporting evidence. This could include dates of previous e-mails or calls, when you first noticed the problem and a detailed account of what has gone wrong.

Every energy supplier must have a method for dealing with complaints that is easily found by customers. The best way of doing this is to visit your supplier’s website. Once here, use the ‘contact us’ or ‘make a complaint’ section to either phone, e-mail, or start an online chat with a company representative. With any luck, this will be enough to resolve your issues and get you back to your day.

If your problem has not been resolved, it is time to escalate things and submit a ‘formal complaint’. If you are online you now need to look for the section of the website with ‘complaints procedure’. This will be no different to making an informal complaint for you. For the company it will mean that the complaint is officially logged and they will now be bound to give you an answer.

Making a formal complaint, for the customer, is the same process as mentioned above. Make sure to prepare before you make contact so that you can be sure that you have all of the necessary information ready to go. Then you can submit your complaint over the phone, via e-mail or by post. Be sure to include as much supporting evidence as you can, especially if this includes previous correspondence or photographs.

Within 8 weeks you will get an answer. This may not be the answer that you were hoping for but you will get a response. This will be in the form of a ‘letter of deadlock’ or ‘decision letter’.

If you did not receive a letter within 8 weeks or you are unhappy with the decision by your energy company, you can take it further. Contacting the energy ombudsman is the next step. They are an unbiased body that will look closely at both sides of the dispute. This is impartial and you must prepare yourself for the possibility of them agreeing with your energy supplier.

Visit the energy ombudsman website for further details on how to contact them. If they uphold your complaint, they have the power to force the energy supplier to change their course of action.

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