Find out how to make a complaint about your energy supplier, and who to talk to if it can't be resolved.
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Your energy supply is the kind of thing you don't notice until something goes wrong, and that's the way it should be. However, when things do go wrong, what can you do about it, particularly if you feel you energy supplier is being unfair.
Wondering how to complain about your energy provider? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to make a complaint about your energy supplier.
Step 1: Complain to your energy supplier
Although you may want to appeal to a higher authority, your first step when something goes wrong should always be to go to your energy supplier directly.
If it's a simple complaint, it can most likely be resolved with a phone call. Remember to write down the time and date of your call, the name of the person you spoke to and the details of what was said as you may need to refer to them later.
If it's more complicated, then it's a good idea to follow up your phone call with a letter or email too, so that you have a record of your correspondence and there's no room for misunderstanding.
When writing your letter or email, remember to include your account number(s) to make it easier for the supplier to deal with your complaint. You should also include a complaint or case reference number if you are following up on earlier correspondence. Just including those simple details could save you weeks of bureaucratic hassle.
You should also try to include photocopies or scans of any relevant paperwork, like your bill. Don't forget to keep the originals for your records, you may need them again later. You could also think about sending your letter by recorded delivery so that you have proof of when it was sent and received.
Step 2: Get in touch with Citizens Advice Consumer Service
In the best case scenario your energy supplier should be able to deal with your complaint, but sometimes that just won't happen. If your energy supplier doesn't resolve your complaint, then you should get in touch with the charity Citizens Advice.
Your first port of call should be the Citizens Advice website. You can search the site for advice on your rights and what to do next.
Unfortunately Citizens Advice is a charity, and won't usually be able to handle your complaint on your behalf unless you're deemed to be part of a vulnerable customer group, such as the elderly, unemployed low income households or those with limiting or longstanding illnesses.
How to contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service:
03444 111 444
By text relay
03444 111 444
The phone and text relay advice lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Citizens Advice also runs a web chat service on its website, which is available from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday (subject to the availability of its advisers).
Step 3: Contact the Energy Ombudsman
If all else has failed it may be time to contact The Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman can help you to get practical action, an apology or explanation, or a financial award to resolve your complaint with your energy supplier. They are the body with teeth that can step between you and your energy supplier to find a resolution.
It is worth noting that complaints aimed at one of the big six energy suppliers - British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE - can be brought to the Energy Ombudsman sooner than those relating to small suppliers.
The Energy Ombudsman handles matters relating to both gas and electricity, there is no specific Electricity Ombudsman or Gas Ombudsman.
You can go to the Energy Ombudsman if:
- your complaint is with British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower or SSE and your complaint hasn't been resolved within eight weeks;
- you're with a smaller supplier (such as Shell, Bulb, Ovo Energy and plenty more) and your complaint hasn't been resolved with 12 weeks;
- if your supplier says that your complaint is 'deadlocked' you can go to the Energy Ombudsman.
The Energy Ombudsman can also deal with:
- problems with energy bills;
- problems resulting from an energy company's sales activity;
- problems resulting from switching gas or electricity supplier;
- physical problems relating to the supply of energy to a home or small business, such as power cuts and connections;
- microgeneration and Feed-in tariffs.
The Energy Ombudsman cannot deal with:
- decisions made by an energy company about the prices it charges;
- cases it considers to be malicious or unjustified;
- complaints about liquid petroleum gas (LPG);
- problems it thinks would be better dealt with by the courts or other complaints procedures.
The Energy Ombudsman can only help if you have a complaint with the companies which participate in the scheme. You can check participating companies on the Ombudsman's website.
How to contact the Energy Ombudsman
Write to the Energy Ombusdman at:
Ombudsman Services: Energy, PO Box 966, Warrington, WA4 9DF
0330 440 1624
0330 440 1600
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Energy Ombudsman is independent and impartial from the energy industry, the energy regulator Ofgem, and any consumer groups. It is their duty to listen to both sides in a dispute, look at all the facts, and reach a fair and equitable solution.
If the Ombudsman reaches a decision the company in question has to take the action requested if it is accepted by you, the consumer. If you reject the decision or don't respond within 28 days you can no longer take up the solution offered by the Ombudsman, but you are still free to complain in other ways, such as through the courts.