The Ombudsman Service received more than 10,500 complaints from energy customers in the first quarter of this year, The Telegraph reports.
That’s an increase of three times from this same period just last year, with grumbles about unexpected charges, not receiving bills and quality of service topping the list of complaints.
Bill-related issues ‘greatest concern’
Energy Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand told The Telegraph:
“With energy complaints trebling in the first quarter of this year and problems relating to billing the greatest concern, increased transparency is something that should be addressed.”
This is in line with recent research from uSwitch, which found that one-fifth of households were incorrectly charged for the energy consumption in the past two years.
For the eighth year running, customers called out energy suppliers as the private companies most likely to get it wrong when it comes to bills — to the tune of about £146 on average.
Of this discrepancy, Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch said:
“With energy bills accounting for the largest chunk of household expenditure after rent and mortgage payments, billing blunders can leave consumers feeling frustrated, susceptible and out of pocket.
“There is a toxic link between estimated bills, inaccuracy and debt, which has to be broken. Estimated bills should come with a health warning and with a very simple message and advice about them.”
Complaint toppers historically
In January of this year, Consumer Futures research revealed that it was npower that received the most complaints of the big six (between July and September 2013).
At the time of the news, npower’s Roger Hattam said of the news:
“Last year, we apologised to our customers for the service issues they may have faced, following the installation of a new billing system.
“I know that we’ve let many of our domestic customers down and I want to apologise personally for this and promise that they will not lose out financially as a direct result of these issues.
“We’re working on these issues as top priority. Our customers deserve to get the best service possible and this is my commitment to them.”
In February of 2013, after Ofgem pushed for more transparency from suppliers, it was EDF Energy that came out with the most complaints.