Energy complaints fall by a third in 2016.
The total number of complaints by domestic energy consumers fell by 32 per cent last year according to data published jointly by Ofgem and the Energy Ombudsman.
The total number of complaints dropped from around 5 million in 2015 to 3.5 million complaints in 2016 – the lowest point in three years.
Most large and medium suppliers solved on average at least 90 per cent of complaints within 8 weeks, the deadline after which complaints may be referred by individuals to the Energy Ombudsman.
Ofgem publishes complaints data quarterly on its website, including the number of complaints suppliers receive and the time it takes to resolve them.
Data released by the Ombudsman today reveals that between January to December 2016, it required suppliers to ‘hand back’ £3.3m through financial awards it made through case remedies.
At the same time the Energy Ombudsman is taking action to drive up standards amongst suppliers. In May 2015 the Energy Ombudsman introduced new requirements that mean failure to implement remedies within 28 days are met by tougher penalties. This has led to a reduction in the time that consumers are waiting for their awards to be implemented.
Ofgem CEO Dermot Nolan comments:
“Ofgem welcomes the overall fall in complaints since 2014.
“We are seeing clear signs that some suppliers are competing harder on customer service. This is good, as it puts pressure on poor-performing companies to up their game or lose market share.
“We want to see all suppliers to take steps to bring down complaints further. We take strict action where we see companies failing and have imposed over £50 million penalties for companies for poor customer service.”
Chief Ombudsman, Lewis Shand Smith, commented:
“The steady decrease in the volume of complaints over the last year is encouraging for the energy industry as it indicates that providers are improving their service and complaints handling. At the same time consumers are rightly more demanding of their energy suppliers than ever before, taking service as well as cost into account. Having easy access to the data we are publishing today gives consumers the power to make informed decisions about their energy provision.
“It’s clear that energy companies’ steps to improve their customer service are starting to pay off, but there is still more that could be done to ensure the service customers receive matches their expectations.”
Ofgem monitors complaints numbers and handling by larger, medium and smaller suppliers across the market. Ofgem has collected data submissions from 18 suppliers across the market including BG, Eon, nPower, Scottish Power, EDF Energy, SSE. Medium-sized: Co-operative, First Utility, Ovo, Utilita, Utility Warehouse, Extra Energy. Smaller-sized: Ecotricity, Spark Energy, Good Energy, Green Star Energy, Economy Energy, Flow Energy. Ofgem’s data comes from suppliers’ submissions and represents the first stage of the complaints process.
The Energy Ombudsman only reports on the cases received by them. This is often the final stage of the complaints process, if a complaint has not been resolved by the supplier.
In 2016 there were around 3.5 million complaints to GB suppliers. Complaint numbers have dropped from 5.1 million in 2015, and from 6.7 million in 2014.
The rates of resolution are similar to 2015 for all larger suppliers, and most medium suppliers. Smaller suppliers have improved performance in 2016. For a more detailed look at resolution rates for individual larger and smaller suppliers, see Supplier performance on the Data portal.
For a more detailed look at the complaints numbers for individual larger, medium and smaller suppliers, see Supplier complaints on the Data portal. For Comparing suppliers, see data on customer satisfaction, complaints handling and ombudsman referrals.
The energy ombudsman can investigate disputes between customers and energy suppliers that have been ongoing for eight weeks or more, or those that have reached a deadlock stage. For further information, see the remedy implementation policy.
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