There’s no better moment to flick that heating and hot water switch – to switch energy supplier for your electricity and gas.
It’s easier than ever to switch energy supplier but people still don’t bother, often just putting up with high-priced tariffs and poor customer service.
Right now though you could be sitting on a pot of money after using less power during the summer. Research by uSwitch earlier this year showed 11 million British households are in credit to energy suppliers with 1 in 10 having more than £200 ready to be refunded.
But in my own case, I’m nearly £480 in credit and almost a month after switching, I am still waiting for this back from my old provider.
Switching doesn’t always go smoothly either. We see many users raising issues around it when readings go wrong and are noted incorrectly leading to high initial bills. Energy complaints are generally lower than other regulated sectors, which chimes with recent Ofgem research showing complaint numbers around energy providers have halved since 2014.
However, switching and billing issues are always key customer issues and I agree with Ofgem’s findings that complaints about poor complaint handling are becoming more common and is causing people to switch.
So how can you head off issues with your energy provider and if you want to complain about a switch or need to raise the issue formally with the Ombudsman Services, what can you do?
How to Complain About a Switch
1) Watch for the variable rate – If you’re coming to the end of a cheap introductory deal, make sure you know the date it finishes. Look through your bills and compare the cost of moving to the company’s variable rate, taking a new deal with them or switching entirely to a new provider. It’s important not to forget that not all variable rates are good value.
2) If you have a large credit balance – It’s your money and now thanks to a rule by the regulator, you only have to ask for it back and can do so at any time. You could do this via templated email to your provider using resolver.co.uk. The system will then allow you to track the request and if things go wrong provide a timeline of your issues as proof of when it was asked for. Remember though, if you take too much back it could lead to a higher bill in the future to make up any shortfall created over the winter months.
3) Check your bills closely – Mistakes do happen. I’ve heard of cases where meter readings have been inputted wrongly leading to abnormal bills. Keep a regular check on your meter and take photos on your phone of the readings as proof. This is very important when switching or moving home. As soon as you notice a problem, raise it with the supplier. It can get very messy if you allow it to drag on and while the energy provider will be able to work out all the complicated numbers, it always becomes very confusing for the customer to do the maths. All suppliers will aim to deal with you promptly but if you do need to raise a complaint, doing it via Resolver allows you to easily and automatically escalate it all the way up to the Ombudsman Services for consideration if things do get heated.
General Complaints to an Energy Provider
Complaining to Your Energy Supplier
The most important thing to remember when you want to complain about an energy supplier is that you must first follow the company’s own complaints procedures before you consider taking your issue to the Energy Ombudsman.
Most energy suppliers offer a fairly comprehensive breakdown of their own complaints procedures on their websites, but Resolver’s app will ensure you say the right thing at the right time – and to the right person!
Helpful Hints When Making a Complaint About an Energy Supplier
- Get your complaint in writing – this is the easiest way of making sure it gets recorded properly
- If you do need to make a phone call, Resolver can record it and store it for you in your online case file.
- Record as many details as possible – who you speak to, their job titles, the dates and times of your calls with them. Resolver can do this for you, but it’s worth making the effort to record details yourself, too.
- Be polite. You might well be really frustrated and irritated about the service you’ve received, but it’s important to keep calm, especially if you’re complaining to the Energy Ombudsman – effectively a third party that has had nothing to do with your complaint other than an intent to solve it.
Written by James Walker Fighting For Your Rights! Consumer Champion – the man who helps you resolve your consumer complaints! James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution tool Resolver.co.uk Follow James via @resolvercouk,[email protected]