Ombudsman Services publishes new data on energy complaints by supplier

by Communications Team | Jun 04, 2015

  • 140,092 energy enquiries made last year, with 46,632 resolved

8 June 2015 - Today, for the first time, Ombudsman Services: Energy publishes data for the 10 biggest energy companies in the UK which details complaints received and complaints resolved, broken down by energy supplier.

As the sole ombudsman for the Energy sector, the publishing of this data by Ombudsman Services will enable consumers to make better-informed decisions about their energy provision.

Ombudsman Services: Energy introduced new requirements in May that mean that failure to implement remedies in full within 28 days will be met with tougher penalties. Failure to implement remedies is detrimental to the complainant, damaging to both Ombudsman Services: Energy and the energy company’s reputation and undermines the value of an ombudsman service.

The new policy will ensure that cases are solved quicker and that the penalties are tougher for energy companies who do not comply with the decisions made.

Amongst the complaints made between April 2014 to March 2015, consumers were most irritated by billing, which accounted for 85% of all complaints made, these relate to various billing issues such as disputed charges, inaccurate invoices, or consumers not receiving a bill at all. The second biggest gripe with energy companies was related to transfers (10%), which relates to issues with switching from one provider to another or from one tariff to another.

More than three quarters (78%) of complaints are settled quickly and relatively easily via informal routes, while the remaining 22 per cent were resolved following a more lengthy investigation. The most common financial reward for consumers who had a problem was a payment of £100.

Ombudsman Services: Energy can investigate disputes between customers and energy suppliers that have been on going for eight weeks or more or those that have reached a deadlock stage. Consumers must contact their supplier directly in the first instance, before they can escalate the complaint to the ombudsman.

Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, commented: “The publishing of this data for the first time puts consumers in complete control of their energy provision, giving them greater transparency about the complaints that we receive about energy companies. Consumers’ expectations of complaint handling are getting higher and higher, driven by technology and a healthy skepticism about brands, so it’s great news that they’ll have this information at their fingertips. For the first time this means we can publish not only the numbers of complaints, but also by company name. Energy companies have already made great strides to better inform consumers and this will help ensure consumer grievances are addressed quickly.

“It also comes as we have introduced a new remedy implementation policy that has strengthened our remit.  

“We remain committed to ensuring that consumers and suppliers can reach a resolution to complaints quickly and efficiently. Going forwards, we also have plans to expand our services as an ombudsman into a range of new sectors, beyond energy, communications and property.”

Ombudsman Services: Energy issued a consultation about plans to publish data on the complaints held in the Energy sector. The consultation attracted responses from regulators, companies and third parties. In response to this, a report based on the findings of a consultation was published. In this, Ombudsman Services: Energy made clear the need to publish more information so that consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about their energy supplier. Ofgem also made it clear that more data should be published, and the data released today is a result of these discussions.

Full data can be accessed on the Ombudsman Services website, which will include an individual infographic for the top 10 energy suppliers. Data will be published quarterly going forwards on receipt of the market share data from Ofgem.

ENDS

About Ombudsman Services

  • Ombudsman Services is a not for profit, private company limited by guarantee. 
  • Ombudsman Services runs national, private sector ombudsman schemes which provide 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