Energy complaints up 191% on last year

by Communications Team | Jan 09, 2015

  • Complaints made in 2014 rise 191% on 2013 levels
  • Complaints recorded in 2014 highest on record

A record total of 52,308 complaints were made to Ombudsman Services: Energy during 2014, an all time high – almost tripling the number recorded during 2013 (17,960).

Complaints made during 2014 represent a 191% increase on last year and more than quadrupling the number made in 2012 (11,283). The figures follow a turbulent year for the energy industry with mounting consumer dissatisfaction, market investigations and Ofgem imposed sanctions.

Billing-related issues were the number one irritant, accounting for 85% of all complaints recorded in 2014 (44,385), up 196% on the number of billing complaints made in 2013 (14,994). Over the year, customers receiving incorrect bills accounted for 14% of all billing related companies, while 18% of complaints were due to customers not receiving a bill at all. 2014 also saw the highest number of complaints recorded in a single month with 5,445 made in July.

The second largest cause for complaint related to transfer issues, which accounted for 12% of all complaints (6,142) – soaring 184% on 2013, possibly reflective of the increased number of customers seeking to switch suppliers in 2014.

The sole ombudsman for the energy sector, Ombudsman Services: Energy can investigate disputes that have been ongoing for eight weeks or more or those that have reached deadlock stage. Consumers must contact their supplier directly in the first instance before approaching the ombudsman.

Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith commented: “The hike in complaints figures over 2014 suggests that consumers are becoming more aware of their rights and less willing to accept poor customer service. Additionally with wholesale prices dropping it is unsurprising that consumers are demanding a fairer deal with more transparency around pricing. It is vital that consumers are empowered to fight for a fair deal.

“Whilst it's encouraging to see more and more consumers taking action against poor service, we're committed to doing even more this year to reach people and reassure them that they have somewhere to turn should things go wrong. Our message is clear, if a customer raises a problem with their supplier and the complaint remains unresolved after eight weeks then we are here to help. Our service is impartial, easy to use and completely free to the customer regardless of the outcome.”

 ENDS

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 Ombudsman Services annual report can be accessed by clicking here
  • The Chief Ombudsman’s speech about the future of Ombudsman Services in a changing consumer redress landscape can be accessed by clicking 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

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