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Energy complaints reach new record high



Figures from the energy ombudsman have revealed that complaints about energy suppliers in the first six months of 2014 have more than doubled figures recorded during the final half of 2013, surpassing the total complaints for last year, with June seeing a hike.

The first half of the year reached an all time high of 22,671 energy complaints, more than the 17,948 recorded for the whole 2013. June in particular had 4,124 – an increase of 216% on complaints made during June 2013.

Among the most discussed issues were billing related problems and transfer issues regarding switching energy supplier, accounting for 84% and 13% of the total respectively.

Chief energy ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said, “The spike in complaints is in part a result of the rising cost of living, but also as a result of consumers becoming more aware of their rights – and feeling more empowered to act and fight for a fair deal. Addressing these concerns is crucial to restoring consumer confidence in the sector.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman added, “Energy companies need to realise that people will not tolerate poor service and are switching suppliers in unprecedented numbers, particularly to small suppliers whose numbers have nearly trebled since 2010.”

The big six energy companies have been the subjects of strong criticism in recent times. Two of them, npower and Scottish Power, have seen complaints doubling in early 2014. Meanwhile, data from consumer group Which? showed that complaints to the big six increased to 1.7 million three months.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesman for Energy UK said, “The energy industry works hard to provide the best service for its customers but in an industry serving 27 million households sometimes things go wrong.

“However, no one wants to see complaints rise and each complaint is taken very seriously with companies working hard and investing in resources and new systems to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Most complaints are dealt with by the end of the next working day with no more than a phone call.

Renewable energy suppliers Good Energy and Ecotricity, ranked highest for customer satisfaction in a Which? survey, but they both experienced some problems when they had to face a rising number of new customers leaving the biggest suppliers.

Photo: Ian Muttoo via Flickr

Further reading:

Complaints to ‘big six’ energy companies hit record high

Npower tops energy customer complaints table

‘Big Six’ energy firms admit to failing customers

Renewable energy specialists Good Energy and Ecotricity ‘setting benchmark’ in customer satisfaction

Energy customers switching suppliers at three-year high, says trade body