3 simple steps to follow if you need to make a complaint
How to make a complaint about your energy supplier
No customer wants to make a complaint, but it’s important that your energy supplier knows if you feel you have been mistreated so that they can take steps to improve their processes and customer care in the future.
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Step one: Make a complaint with your energy supplier
Your first point of call when making a complaint is to reach out directly to your own energy supplier. Although it might seem counter-intuitive to contact the company that you are unhappy with, it’s the correct action to take. You should only appeal to a higher authority if you really need to because a dispute cannot be resolved.
Most of the time, a complaint can be settled quite easily between you and the company that supplies your gas or electricity. Generally, they will want to keep you happy because you are a customer of theirs.
For issues that are relatively straightforward:
- First, get your account reference details ready and make sure you know how to communicate the problem, possibly referring to some notes you prepared earlier.
- Call the energy company, getting the customer helpline from their website or from your past energy bills.
- Note down the time and date that you made your call.
- Ask the person you are speaking with what their name is and write this down too.
- Ask for the case reference number that the company will be using to log this complaint, so you can use it as a reference point if you need to contact the company again.
- Add a summary of what was discussed to your notes, jotting down any details that seem important or that you may want to refer to later.
- If you can’t reach them by phone, see if you can use an online chat service. Keep records in the same way as you would if you were communicating by phone.
For issues that are slightly more complex:
- Take the same steps as detailed above.
- Follow up your phone call with a letter or an email so that you have a shared record of your correspondence. This ensures that nobody can claim the discussion did not take place and limits the chance of a misunderstanding between you and your energy company.
- Include your account reference details in your letter. You’ll usually find an account number on your past energy bills.
- Include any complaint reference details or a case reference number. This helps the person receiving your letter to piece together the context and will save time and hassle.
- Add photocopies or scans of past bills if they are relevant to your complaint. If you are sharing paperwork, you should keep the originals as these will be important for your own records and you may need to rely on them in the future.
- For additional reassurance that the energy firm has received your letter, send it by recorded delivery. This provides proof that it was sent and successfully delivered.
Moving forward, continue to keep a record of your communications. Hopefully, your supplier will be able to find a solution that you are satisfied with. It’s in their interest to do this so that you continue as their customer.
However, it’s not always as simple as that and in some cases, you’ll need to get external support and guidance. If you are in this position, your next step is to contact Citizens Advice.
Step two: Get in touch with Citizens Advice for support
Step three: Make a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman
ou can contact the Energy Ombudsman to help you reach a fair resolution with your gas or electricity company.
As an independent and unbiased party, the Ombudsman will review the facts and consider all perspectives.
The Energy Ombudsman can help you resolve problems with:
- energy bills,
- improper sales activity,
- feed-in tariffs,
- power cuts and connections, and
- switching gas or electricity supplier.
However, the Energy Ombudsman cannot help you resolve problems with:
- complaints about liquid petroleum gas (LPG),
- energy prices,
- malicious or unjustified disputes, or
- more complex cases that would be better settled by the courts.
If your complaint has not been dealt with correctly, the Energy Ombudsman can help you get practical action, financial compensation, clarification or an apology.
First, raise the complaint:
- Provide copies of the evidence and records you kept from your initial complaint made with the energy company.
- Complaints against the big six energy companies, British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE, can be raised with the Energy Ombudsman if unresolved after 8 weeks.
- Complaints against smaller suppliers can be raised after 12 weeks.
- Cases described as deadlocked by your energy supplier can be raised with the Ombudsman immediately.
Then you must decide whether to proceed with the solution provided.
- The Ombudsman will aim to come to a fair solution.
- Once they reach a decision, you will have 28 to accept it. If you accept, the energy company must comply with the demands made.
- If you choose not to move forward with the Ombudsman’s decision, you can still take your complaint to the courts if you wish to proceed with it further.
You can contact the Energy Ombudsman by post, phone, text, live chat or email:
- Post: Ombudsman Services: Energy, PO Box 966, Warrington, WA4 9DF
- Phone: 0330 440 1624
- Text: 0330 440 1600
- Live chat: ombudsman-services.org/complain-now
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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