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Energy suppliers - How to complain

Friday, 22nd January 2010

If you need to complain about your gas or electricity supplier then we have produced a simple to use three step guide to help you.

Step one - How to complain

If you have a complaint about your gas or electricity supplier, or distribution network operator on a connections issue, you should contact them first. You will find your account numbers and the relevant telephone / website details on your energy bill.

When making the complaint explain what the problem is and what you want your energy supplier to do to resolve it.

Eight weeks to resolve the complaint

The regulator Ofgem has issued complaint handling standards for all these firms so the first thing you need to do is raise the issue with your energy supplier; they will then have eight weeks to settle the dispute.

It is important that you keep a record of the details about your complaint, for example if it is about a meter reading then note the date it was taken and what the reading was, you might find taking a photo (using your mobile phone) of the reading helpful, also keep a copy of any letters or documents you post to the supplier. This may well prove useful later on for reference purposes.

You can make a complaint by email, in writing or on the phone. Don’t forget to keep records of your contact and what you said and to whom.

Free complaint template letters

If you need help with writing a complaint then see the Citizens Advice energy complaint template letter formats’, they are available to you free of charge here - Complain to your energy supplier template letters

Step two - Resolving the complaint

Your supplier may well ask for more information in their attempt to resolve and understand your issue, they may even offer to visit your home and inspect the meter. You will then need to decide if you think their response is reasonable and it will solve the problem you have. If it doesn’t, tell them.

Wait eight weeks or the 'deadlock' letter

In any event your energy supplier should write to you at eight weeks or ‘deadlock’ – when either of you cannot reach agreement. If it is looking likely that you will not reach an agreement in the eight weeks after raising the complaint then ask the energy supplier for a ‘deadlock’ letter. This may save several weeks waiting before you can go to step 3.

Step three - What to do if you are not happy with the response

If you are not satisfied with the energy supplier’s response on resolving your complaint then you can take your case to the Energy Ombudsman provided the following applies:

  • you are not satisfied with the response
  • the matter has not been resolved in eight weeks since you raised your complaint or you have a deadlock letter from the energy supplier
  • complaints made before 1 October 2015, you referred the case within six months of a deadlock letter or within nine months of your complaint being raised with your supplier
  • complaints made after 1 October 2015, you referred the case within 12 months of a deadlock letter. If you have not received a deadlock letter, they may be able to investigate a complaint older than 12 months.

The Energy Ombudsman

The Energy Ombudsman is a free, independent and impartial service and can order the energy supplier to take action on your behalf and can force them to deal with your complaint; sometimes this may result in an apology or even compensation.

Its decisions are binding on the energy supplier but not the consumer.

Useful resources

Citizens Advice consumer helpline (formerly known as Consumer Direct)

The Energy Ombudsman

Ofgem

Related reading - New rules to come into force to prevent energy providers from backbilling consumers

Ofgem, which consulted on this issue last year, has decided to ban all domestic and microbusiness suppliers from issuing backbills for energy used more than 12 months ago. You can read the news article here Ofgem bans suppliers from backbilling customers beyond 12 months (DebtWizard page)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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