Believe it or not, people sometimes have to make a complaint about their energy supplier. A lot of the time this involves calling their customer service centre and being told how important your call is to them 72 times while you wait for what seems like hours listening to the worst music in the world. We didn’t even know there was a difference between good and bad music before the first time we had to make that call.
If you’re not satisfied after speaking to your supplier, then you’ve got the option of taking things further, and this involves getting in touch with Ofgem and making an energy ombudsman complaint.
Why you might want to complain about your energy supplier
You might want to complain about inaccurate billing, or ask about getting a refund on an overpayment. You might want to complain about the fact that your supplier stuck you on their default tariff when your fixed rate tariff ended, but (and we’re sorry to break this to you) that’s par for the course. You might as well complain about the colour of the sky or the fact that there are 31 days in January (seriously, does anyone like January?). Complaints to the energy ombudsman commonly deal with issues such as:
- The amount you’re being billed – if you think a mistake has been made and the supplier isn’t dealing with it properly
- Problems when you’ve decided to do the sensible thing and switch to a supplier offering a better deal
- If an energy product or service has been mis-sold to you
- If the supply of energy to your home hasn’t been reliable enough
- If you’re having problems arranging a repair with your network provider
How to complain about your energy supplier
The first thing to do is contact your supplier directly. If you’re not entirely 100% sure who your supplier is then, firstly, you can stop feeling embarrassed. There are currently 62 energy suppliers in the UK and in the age of switching and premium tariffs it can be easy to lose track. Read our guide to easily find out who your energy supplier is.
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Once you know who your supplier is:
Get in touch with them to register your complaint. It could be that they’re genuinely unaware of the problem and keen to sort things out when you explain the situation, but you’ll only be able to find out if you give them a call. To make things as simple as possible try to gather as much information as you can before you pick up the phone. If you’ve got a bill handy, make a note of your customer reference number, and think about reading your meter, particularly if the problem concerns the amount you’ve been billed.
Because the complaints process can sometimes be a long and drawn out affair, it will pay to take notes when you call your supplier. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand, log the date and time of the call and ask the name of the person you’re speaking to.
If your complaint is dealt with:
Hurray! Jump in the air, click your heels together and treat yourself to an ice cream sundae (or whatever it is you do to celebrate triumphing against all the odds). Then spend the rest of your day doing something much more relaxing than talking to an energy company.
If, on the other hand…
If your complaint isn’t dealt with properly then it’s time to put pen to paper. You’re not writing to the energy ombudsman just yet, but to your supplier. Yes, we know it sounds terribly old fashioned, like strapping a note to the leg of a pigeon and hoping it flies to the right call centre, but this is your chance to put everything down in a clear, calm manner. Make sure you explain that this is a complaint, and send copies of any relevant paperwork, such as bills or tariff agreements. When you send your letter, post it recorded delivery, so you have a record of sending it, and keep a copy for your records.
Eight weeks later
If you’ve waited six to eight weeks and your complaint still hasn’t been resolved, then it’s time to wheel out the big guns. That’s an over-excited way of saying you should contact the energy ombudsman. The ‘ombudsman’ isn’t the most strangely named superhero yet, it’s the body which deals with complaints of this kind. It’s a completely independent body, not connected to the supplier themselves, or even to Ofgem. To make a complaint you simply have to visit their website and register, at which point you can tell them about the problems you’re having and seek a resolution. The more information you can give them at this stage, the more likely it is that your complaint will be successful, so keep a record of all correspondence between you and your supplier from the date on which you decided to complain. Now you understand why noting everything down is so important.
If you’re not yet angry enough to make an actual complaint but need more information on matters energy-centric (we might have just invented a new word there), then visit the website of Ofgem. As the government body in charge of making sure that everyone plays by the rules, they’ll be able to deal with issues like renters rights and energy bills and what to do if your energy supplier goes bust.
Of course, the thing that people complain about more than anything is not being on the best value tariff, in which case we have only one thing to say – stop complaining, contact Look After My Bills and start switching.