Ombudsman Services publishes energy complaints data for June

by Communications Team | Jul 31, 2015

  • 35,309 complaints received in 2015 to-date
  • But complaints decreased throughout Q2 2015

Thousands of dissatisfied energy users have complained to Ombudsman Services: Energy in the first half of 2015. In total, 35,309 complaints were received in between January and June this year, up 55% on the same period in 2014, with the majority of these relating to issues with Scottish Power and Npower.

Despite an increase in complaints year on year, complaints figures have been steadily decreasing since March, with 15,853 received in Q2 2015, down from 19,456 in Q1. It seems that energy companies may have started to improve their customer service and complaints handling procedures.

Amongst the complaints made between April 2015 to June 2015, billing remained the most common issue experienced by consumers, accounting for 85% of all complaints made. The most common billing problems were disputed charges, inaccurate invoices and backdated billing.

The second biggest grumble related to transfers (10%), which relates to issues with switching between providers or tariffs. Although the Government plans to introduce 24-hour switching into the energy industry, which may help to reduce gripes about transfers, consumers will have to wait until 2018 before they can take advantage of the service.

While recent figures imply the energy industry is improving, many people who have issues with providers still choose not to complain. Ombudsman Services’ Consumer Action Report1 found that across all sectors, 71 million problems were not acted upon at all. In addition, two fifths (43%) believe complaining is ‘not worth the hassle’.

Ombudsman Services: Energy is an independent and impartial body providing free and easy-to-access advice and dispute resolution to consumers. It investigates 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 steady decrease in the volume of complaints over the last three months is encouraging for the energy industry as it indicates that providers are starting to improve their service and complaints handling, although it’s too early to say whether this is a trend.. There are, however, still too many people who are choosing to suffer in silence, because they believe the complaints process is too much hassle, too costly, or will take up too much of their time. This is especially worrying in light of the well-documented recent energy problems experienced by consumers with Npower and Scottish Power.

“Ombudsman Services exists as a quick, free and easy way to resolve ongoing complaints with energy providers, which can provide advice and help to solve peoples’ issues hassle-free. Going forwards, we also have plans to expand our services as an ombudsman into a range of new sectors not currently served by ombudsmen, beyond energy, communications and property.” 

END

 

Month

 

Jan-14

3517

Feb-14

3626

Mar-14

3593

Apr-14

3898

May-14

3939

Jun-14

4195

Jul-14

5454

Aug-14

4669

Sep-14

4654

Oct-14

5274

Nov-14

5324

Dec-14

4737

2014 Total

52880

Jan-15

7098

Feb-15

5735

Mar-15

6623

Apr-15

5922

May-15

5102

Jun-15

4829