Making a complaint to your energy supplier

Your gas and electricity supply is the sort of thing you don't think about until something goes wrong. However, if something does go wrong you need to know what you can do about it, especially if you feel your energy supplier is being unfair.

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Making a complaint directly to your energy supplier

The first step you should take if you need to make a complaint regarding your energy supply is to contact your supplier directly.

Depending on the nature of the complaint you may find that it can be resolved quite quickly with a phone call. However, make a note of the date and time of your call, the name of the person you spoke to and the details of what was said in case you need to refer to them at a later date.

For more complicated complaints, it may be worthwhile following up your phone call with a letter or an email. This ensures you have a record of the conversation and can prevent any misunderstanding.

When writing your letter or email, you must remember to include your account number(s) as this will make it easier for your supplier to handle your complaint. If you are following up on an earlier complaint you should have been given a reference number for the complaint/case, if so ensure you include this too.

Be sure to also include any photocopies or scans of necessary or relevant paperwork, such as a bill. Avoid sending the originals as you may need them later. Sending your letter by recorded delivery may also prove beneficial as you’ll have proof of delivery if it’s ever needed.

Contacting Citizens Advice Consumer Service

Your energy supplier should be able to sufficiently handle and resolve your complaint internally. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If your energy supplier doesn’t (or is unable to) resolve your complaint, your next step should be to contact the charity Citizens Advice. Using their website you can search for advice on your rights and what to do next.

As Citizens Advice is a charity they won’t usually be able to handle your complaint on your behalf. However, if 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 they may be able to step in.

How to contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service

  • Phone - 03444 111 444

  • Text - 03444 111 444

The phone and text advice lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

  • Live chat

Citizens Advice live chat is available from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday (subject to the availability of its advisers).

Contacting the Energy Ombudsman

If your energy company has been unable to resolve your complaint and citizens advice has been unable to help then your last port of call is to contact the Energy Ombudsman. They’re there to help you get practical action, an apology or explanation, or a financial award to resolve your complaint with your energy supplier.

Complaints aimed at one of the big six energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE) can be brought to the ombudsman sooner than complaints regarding other energy suppliers.

It’s worth noting the Energy Ombudsman handles matters relating to both gas and electricity.

You can approach the Energy Ombudsman if:

  • your complaint hasn't been resolved within eight weeks and your complaint is with British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower or SSE

  • 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

It’s important to note that not all energy companies are a part of the Energy Ombudsman scheme. So they can only help if you have a complaint with the companies which participate. You can check participating companies on the Ombudsman's website.

How to contact the Energy Ombudsman

  • Post - Ombudsman Services: Energy, PO Box 966, Warrington, WA4 9DF

  • Phone - 0330 440 1624

  • Text - 0330 440 1600

  • Email - enquiry@ombudsman-services.org

  • Online - https://www.ombudsman-services.org/complain-now

The Energy Ombudsman is independent and impartial from the energy industry, the energy regulator Ofgem, and any consumer groups. Their duty is to listen to both sides in a dispute, review 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.

Tags: Energy