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How to make a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman

If you’re having a problem with your energy supply, you’ve every right to complain with your energy provider. If that doesn’t work and things can’t be resolved, you may need to take your case to the Energy Ombudsman. Here’s what you should do.

If you’re having a problem with your energy supply, you’ve every right to complain with your energy provider. If that doesn’t work and things can’t be resolved, you may need to take your case to the Energy Ombudsman. Here’s what you should do.

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
6
minute read
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Posted 14 JANUARY 2022

How to complain to your energy supplier

There’s no doubt that the energy market is pretty unstable at the moment. A massive rise in wholesale prices, especially gas, has led to soaring energy bills and a spate of energy suppliers going bust.

And although the Ofgem safety net guarantees a smooth transition to a new supplier, around two million customers are feeling the effects of the latest energy crisis.

While energy providers are duty bound to offer help and support to their customers, especially those who are struggling financially, it’s hardly surprising that many customers feel unhappy right now.

If you feel you’re being treated unfairly by your energy supplier, and you want to make a formal complaint, then here’s what you should do.

Step 1: talk to your energy provider

First things first: contact your energy provider directly by phone. Make a note of:

  • the date and time of the call
  • the name of the person you talk to
  • the nature of your problem

Explain your problem and what you want them to do about it. If it’s a fairly simple problem, they may be able to resolve it quickly. It’s also worth following up your call with an email or letter, so they have a record to refer to and there’s no risk of a misunderstanding.

If you can’t resolve the problem informally, you can take things further and make a formal complaint.

Step 2: make a formal complaint

All energy providers have a complaints process. You should be able to find contact details and their complaints procedure on their website. You should be able to complain by phone, post or email.

You’ll need a few details to hand, including your energy account number. You can usually find this on a recent bill. Keep photocopies of any relevant paperwork, like past emails, letters and bills. You can also gather evidence to show – for example, photos of a faulty meter.

Once you’ve made a formal complaint, your energy provider has up to eight weeks to respond. They should send you a ‘decision letter’, also known as a ‘deadlock letter’ explaining how they intend to deal with your complaint.

If you’re not happy with the deadlock letter or don’t receive a response within eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.

Step 3: Support for vulnerable customers

If you’re a vulnerable customer, you can get further help and support from the Citizens Advice Extra Help Unit. It can raise the complaint on your behalf and has the power to investigate your energy issues.

The Extra Help Unit is a free service, available for people in vulnerable situations, for example:

  • if you fall behind with your energy bills and are at risk of being cut off
  • if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to resolve the problem
  • if you’re unable to deal with your energy supplier yourself
  • if you’re elderly, disabled or on a low income
  • if you’re a microbusiness in a vulnerable situation.

How to contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline:

Did you know?

Latest figures from Compare the Market’s Household Financial Confidence Tracker estimate that 43% of families with children at home would struggle financially if the cost of their energy bills increased.

Step 4: Contact the Energy Ombudsman

If all else fails, and your energy provider is unwilling to resolve your complaint within eight weeks, you can pass your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.

The Energy Ombudsman will look at both sides of the story and any evidence submitted. It will then come to a fair, independent and balanced decision. If you accept the resolution offered by the Energy Ombudsman, your energy provider is legally bound to comply with the decision.

What can you expect from an Energy Ombudsman resolution?

If the case falls in your favour, you could expect:

  • an apology from your energy provider
  • an explanation of what went wrong
  • practical action from your energy provider to remedy the problem
  • possibly, financial compensation up to a certain limit
  • recommendations on how the energy provider can avoid similar problems happening again

What types of complaints does the Energy Ombudsman deal with?

The Energy Ombudsman can deal with complaints about:

  • gas and electricity bills
  • problems with switching energy supplier
  • installation/delays
  • customer service
  • how energy deals have been sold to you
  • problems with supply of energy to your home, for example, power cuts, connection or repair problems
  • Green Deal, Micro Business Energy and Feed-in-Tariff problems
  • problems with District Heating suppliers.

What doesn’t the Energy Ombudsman deal with?

The Energy Ombudsman can’t take on complaints about:

  • commercial decisions made by an energy provider about whether to provider a product or service
  • pricing decisions made by the energy provider
  • problems concerning LPG (liquid petroleum gas)
  • malicious or unjustified complaints
  • problems that need to go to court

How to contact the Energy Ombudsman

You can contact the Energy Ombudsman by:

Frequently asked questions

How long will I have to make a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman?

You’ll have up to 12 months after receiving a deadlock letter to make your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. They might investigate a longer complaint if you never got a deadlock letter.

If energy bills are capped, why are my bills so high?

The energy price cap limits the amount energy providers can charge on their default tariffs. Unfortunately, in recent times, wholesale energy prices have risen so high that the additional cost is raising the level of the price cap. This is because Ofgem sets the cap level based on the overall costs to the energy suppliers. With wholesale gas prices hitting the roof, the price cap has no choice but to rise, and this will be passed onto the customers.

Current figures from Compare the Market research estimates that Ofgem’s £139 energy price cap increase in October 2021 could push two in five families into debt with their energy supplier.

What should I do if I’m struggling to pay my gas or electricity bill?

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, contact your energy provider. They are duty bound to help you find a solution. If you can agree on an affordable payment plan, they can’t cut off your supply.

If you’re a vulnerable customer, you should ask to be placed on the Priority Services Register. This can give you a priority service and free support if you’re in a vulnerable situation.

If you’re on a low income or certain benefits, you should also check whether you’re eligible for one of the Government schemes:

  • Warm home discount – £140 off your electricity bills.
  • Cold weather payments – covers the cost of heating in extremely cold weather.
  • Winter fuel payment – an additional payment to help towards fuel bills if you’re retired – you should get it automatically if you get the State Pension.

How can I avoid being overcharged for energy?

The simplest way to avoid being overcharged for energy is to submit regular meter readings – that way you’ll receive a more accurate bill instead of an estimate. If you have a smart meter you won’t have to do anything. Regular readings are taken and automatically sent to your energy supplier.

You could also save money by switching energy suppliers.

Due to the current energy crisis, Ofgem recommends waiting to switch if your energy supplier has gone bust. Once you are transferred to your new supplier, ask about moving to a cheaper tariff or shop around for a better deal.