- Complaints recorded in July 2014 highest on record, up 24% on June
- 5,193 complaints in total – almost treble for the same month in 2013
- Thousands more are complaining prematurely to Ombudsman Services: Energy
Complaints made to Ombudsman Services: Energy about energy companies have increased for the fourth month in a row, with customers ever more determined to take action against poor service.
There were 5,193 complaints to Ombudsman Services: Energy in July, a 24% increase on the June figure and nearly triple the number received in July 2013.
Consumer dissatisfaction has been stoked by recent high profile investigations into the energy market1, as well as a much greater awareness of the existence of Ombudsman Services: Energy.
The recorded figures only cover complaints that the ombudsman was authorised to act upon; many thousands more calls were received from customers trying to refer their case too soon.
As a result Ombudsman Services: Energy is calling on consumers to be aware of its remit, which requires that a complaint can only be investigated if it remains unresolved with the supplier for eight weeks or more. If customers need independent help before this point they should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline2.
Billing-related issues continue to top the list of grievances for consumers, accounting for 86% (4,505) of all complaints made in July, creeping up 25% on June’s figures.
Problems relating to transfer issues were the second largest cause for compliant – accounting for almost 10% (518) of all complaints.
Post-recession cynicism and austerity has left consumers less likely to put up with shoddy service and more likely to take action. Research undertaken earlier in the year by Ombudsman Services: Energy revealed 32 per cent of people say they are more likely to complain about poor service now than they were a year ago3.
Chief Energy Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith commented:
“It’s great that people are feeling more empowered when it comes to taking action against poor service. However, we would like to encourage people to remember that they must first take their complaint directly to their supplier. In the event that the dispute remains unresolved for eight weeks or more then they can refer their case to us and we will investigate both sides of the argument and provide an impartial solution.”
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1 In June, Ofgem formally referred the energy market to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for a full investigation into price rises.
2 TheCitizens Advice consumer helpline is available on 03454 04 05 06. Customers can also talk to a Welsh-speaking consumer adviser on 03454 04 05 05.
3 Ombudsman Services commissioned ICM Research to conduct a nationally representative survey of 2,023 people between 3 and 5 January 2014. When questioned, 657 people out of 2,023 said they were more likely to take action against a product/supplier than 12 months ago.
Notes to editors
- Ombudsman Services is a not for profit, private company limited by guarantee.
- Ombudsman Services is a national, private sector ombudsman scheme which provides independent dispute resolution for the communications, energy, property, copyright licensing sectors, the Green Deal, the ABFA, Reallymoving.com and Which? Trusted Traders scheme.
- The Chief Ombudsman’s speech about the future of Ombudsman Services in a changing consumer redress landscape can be accessed here
- Ombudsman Services provides an expert dispute resolution service. The service focuses on encouraging early agreed resolution wherever possible and does not charge a fee so it’s able to offer access to redress for consumers to resolve their complaints without proceeding to the civil courts.
- Ombudsman Services is a full member of the Ombudsman Association (OA) and adheres to its principles.
- Further information about Ombudsman Services can be found at www.ombudsman-services.org
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together they help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. The Citizens Advice service is also the statutory consumer body, representing energy and postal consumers across Great Britain. For more, see the Citizens Advice website.
- You can get energy advice and support from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.