Complaints against energy firms rocket to the highest on record says Ombudsman

14th July 2014

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Complaints made to the energy ombudsman have reached an all-time high during the first half of 2014.

During the first six months of the year, 22,671 grievances were registered, more than double the 10,598 recorded during the final half of 2013 and more than 2013’s total of 17,948.

The figures, released by the energy ombudsman, also reveal that complaints received in June marked the highest on record, soaring to 4,124 – an increase of 216% on complaints made during June 2013.

Billing related issues continue to be the biggest source of pain for consumers, accounting for 84% or 19,009, of the complaints made between January and June 2014. Billing related complaints made during this period rose 113% on the final half of 2013.

The second largest cause for complaint related to transfer issues – accounting for 13% or 2,988 of all complaints made during the first half of the year. Transfer related complaints made during this period were up 146% on those made during the previous six-month period from July to December 2013. The figures follow recent industry approval for energy companies to reduce the time it takes consumers’ to transfer suppliers to just three working days.

Chief Energy Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith commented: “The spike in complaints is in part a result of the rising cost of living, but also as a result of consumers becoming more aware of their rights – and feeling more empowered to act and fight for a fair deal. Addressing these concerns is crucial to restoring consumer confidence in the sector.”

Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, commenting on the surge in complaints said: “The energy industry works hard to provide the best service for its customers but in an industry serving 27m households sometimes things go wrong. However no one wants to see complaints rise and each complaint is taken very seriously with companies working hard and investing in resources and new systems to resolve issues as quickly as possible.

“Most complaints are dealt with by the end of the next working day with no more than a phone call.
 
”The industry will be consulting stakeholders this summer about the complaints it cannot fix in 48 hours.
 
”If any customer is concerned or has a problem with their energy supplier they should speak to the companies first.”

Energy UK has a guide to help people resolve their problems, which can be found here.

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