- Monthly complaints to Ombudsman Services: Energy hit 4,354 in September – nearly treble the same month last year (1,571)
- Continues a steady increase over 2014, with billing still the most common cause of problems
A total of 4,354 complaints were made to Ombudsman Services: Energy during September 2014. This continues an upward trend seen since the beginning of the year, with consumers more willing than ever to escalate complaints to the ombudsman.
The figures also represent a significant increase on the same period last year, when just over one and half thousand (1,571) complaints were received.
Billing still accounts for the bulk of problems, with more than three-quarters of complaints (3,687) attributable to issues such as disputed charges, inaccurate invoices and disputed meter readings.
Problems transferring to another tariff or provider accounted for a further 11 per cent of disputes (487), with more than a third of these relating to unfulfilled requests to switch.
While the figures do reflect customer service problems with some energy providers, they are also indicative of rising consumer activism when it comes to energy bills, which are high on the political agenda thanks to party policy announcements* and recent market investigations*.
Ombudsman Services is urging consumers to contact their supplier directly if they have a complaint and if eight weeks then pass without resolution they can refer the matter to the ombudsman.
Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith commented: “It’s heartening to see so many more consumers are willing to take complaints against companies when they have a problem. A well-handled complaint benefits everyone, most of all the company that resolves it, so this can only be a welcome trend.
“We want to join the regulator and government in encouraging people to be more aware of their rights. If you have a problem, take it up with the company involved and if it’s not resolved satisfactorily, come to us.”
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* Labour recently pledged to freeze energy bills up to January 2017 if it wins next year’s general election
** Earlier in the year, Ofgem formally referred the energy market to The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the supply and acquisition of energy in Great Britain.
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