Around 40% of us have had gas or electricity related complaints in the past two years, according to a Which? report. That’s a surprisingly high percentage considering that Ofgem have declared war on an overly complicated market. But, the good news is that because of the high levels of dissatisfaction among customers and complaints about energy companies, compensation is now being paid out.
Compensation can be claimed for things like mistakes on bills, inaccurate meter readings, and missing bills. If an energy company doesn’t resolve a customer’s problem, then the complaint can be escalated, and taken to the Energy Ombudsman.
If your energy supplier does not resolve a complaint within an allocated amount of time, you can take your case to the energy ombudsman and could be entitled to compensation. If you are supplied energy by one of the 'Big Six'*, they must resolve any issues within eight weeks, whereas smaller providers have 12 weeks to react.
*The Big Six energy providers are Scottish Power, British Gas, Npower, Eon, EDF Energy and SSE.
The gas and electricity ombudsman could also award you compensation due to energy mis-selling. For example, Scottish Power were recently made to pay out £8.5m to customers who were mis-led by their doorstep and telesales agents.
You may be able to claim compensation for lengthy power outages, too. SSE recently paid compensation to customers whose power supplies were cut off over the 2013 Christmas period. If you’ve been inconvenienced in any way, then you could be owed compensation.
What’s even worse than the 40% of us who have had problems with energy suppliers, is the 23% who never reported the issues to begin with. But, with Big Six suppliers Npower and British Gas recently incurring huge fines (£2m and £2.5m respectively) for such poor levels of customer services, it’s easy to see why people might think it’s pointless mentioning anything.
But, more and more people are beginning to realise that it is worth complaining. The energy ombudsman is a free service which could award up to £5,000 in energy compensation. Plus, the more complaints there are, the more paid out in compensation, which means the more incentive and pressure there is on energy suppliers to improve their standards of service to customers.
Comparing tariffs and switching suppliers also puts pressure on energy providers to drive prices down, and could potentially spark a price war. If you have never switched suppliers, or if you haven’t run a comparison recently, there’s a good chance you could be paying more for your energy than you have to. Compare tariffs, get the best deals on the market, and help consumers to demand a better service from energy suppliers.