Common energy complaints - and how to solve them
Are you frustrated by your energy supplier?
Maybe it’s them sending you the wrong bill (or none at all), poor customer service, or punishing rather than rewarding you for your loyalty.
Poor treatment of customers is unacceptable in any industry, especially for essentials (such as energy).
But, as complaints data from the energy watchdog Ofgem shows, too many suppliers consider poor service the order of business.
You don’t have to accept this status quo.
If you have a common complaint with your energy company, here are the ways to resolve them – quickly and fairly.
And remember, you can make a complaint about your energy supplier using our free tool.
We’ll do our best to help. The quickest way to escape from poor service and high prices is, of course, to vote with your feet.
Billing - "I was overcharged because of billing errors"
Ofgem has worked to make your bills easier to understand, so you can catch errors quickly.
If your bill seems off, do a quick meter reading to note your current usage.
Then make sure your reading is not wildly off from the amount your supplier is claiming on your most recent bill and/or annual statement.
If it is, this could be due to something as simple as a misplaced decimal point or imperial vs metric units on an old meter.
Should that not be the case, input your postcode, then your usage (noted as kWh on your bill) into an estimator such as this one, and you can get an idea of what your spend should be.
If there is a major discrepancy, phone your supplier with the correct information and ask for your bill to corrected.
If an issue is more than 12 months old, and in favour of the supplier, you are not obliged to pay.
But if the issue is in your favour, you are still entitled to a credit, even if it’s years later.
In the future, Ofgem aims to more or less eliminate this issue nationwide.
Be sure to keep an eye on errors. Left too long, they can result in (mistaken) threats of bailiffs, and/or your being sent to collections. One unlucky couple even was denied a mortgage, through no fault of their own.
More on this issue: what to do if you're owed money by your energy supplier.
Payments – 'My supplier won’t accept my payment'
You’d think that suppliers would be keen to take your payments, but that’s not always the case.
Sometimes they don’t accept payments due to billing errors, meter errors or problems with their payment systems.
One possible fix is to try an alternative method of paying – such as using a credit/debit card, or direct debit, or trying to pay online rather than over the phone.
If that is unsuccessful, make a formal complaint to your supplier. Under Ofgem rules, they must respond with a decision within 8 weeks.
If the issue is still not resolved, contact the ombudsman to report the issue.
Also, take care to keep a log of your attempts to pay – call logs, screenshots, etc. An easy way to do this is to correspond via email, which will automatically log dates & times.
These records may come in handy if you ever need to prove your attempts later on.
At times, prepayment meters won’t accept the key or card.
Should this happen, contact your supplier immediately; they should be able to walk you through the steps to a resolution.
If it looks like the key or card is the issue, they can provide a reference number that you can take to a PayPoint, and receive a replacement.
More on meters: switching from a prepayment meter – what you need to know.
Meter problems - 'My energy meter is giving the wrong readings'
A meter performing improper readings can be rare, but it does happen.
Issues can arise due to old imperial meters being read as metric, usage data being read from the wrong residence, and/or usage being improperly calculated (such as a meter running fast).
If you think your meter is improperly running, the most cost-efficient way to check is a DIY test.
Take a reading first thing one morning and then shut off everything that consumes energy in your home - everything. Don’t forget switches on standby or “invisible” devices (such as your pilot light or broadband).
Have everyone go out for a few hours and when you return see if your meter has budged.
If there is a drastic change, record it and report the issue to your supplier.
They will then send an engineer to investigate the issue.
There may be a charge; but if they find your meter to be broken, those fees are often reimbursed, along with any improper charges.
More on this topic: smart meters - everything you need to know.
'My energy bill is overpriced – what can I do?'
If you feel your bill is overpriced, you can shop around for a cheaper tariff.
It couldn’t be simpler – our price comparison tool makes it easy to sort through the numerous tariffs on the market.
To ensure you get the best deal, be sure to pick a site that displays as many deals as possible
According to Ofgem, the best deal on the market is £299 cheaper than the average variable tariff with the Big Six, so there’s plenty of money to be saved.
Our tariff guide has everything you need to know on the different plans available.
'My energy supplier’s customer service is atrocious'
When your supplier is simply not delivering a decent service, it may be time to move to one that will.
After all, switching is far easier (and faster) than putting up with poor service.
It pays to do your research before switching.
If you’re comfortable managing your account online, there are plenty of suppliers with bare bones customer service; if, on the other hand, you value speaking to a human being, make sure your supplier has a dedicated, UK-based call centre.
Before you make a decision, read our in-depth reviews of the UK's energy suppliers.
'I'm in debt and can’t afford my energy bills – what help can I get?'
If you are experiencing energy debt, be sure to speak to your supplier about options.
Remember, they want to resolve it just as much as you do – and they are obligated to work with you.
Together, you can develop a feasible and fair repayment plan.
Preventing future debt
If the debt is due to unfortunate financial circumstances, it may be worth looking into relief. Here is info about energy grants and benefits from Citizen’s Advice.
Also, when out of debt, be sure to switch to a cheaper tariff to keep your bills as low as possible.
How walking away could solve your supplier problems (and potentially save you £100s)
One of those affected by poor service, Eve Hanks, decided to fight back with her pocketbook.
“It was clear I was being overcharged for the service being supplied to me,” she says.
“My reasons for switching were purely customer service based, so you can imagine my disbelief when switching enabled me to save £435 as well as receive better service”.
To top it all off, it was far easier for Eve (below) to switch than deal with another moment of frustration from her previous supplier.