Complain About Your Energy Supplier
Most of us don’t think that much about our energy supplier until there’s a problem or a dispute.
That’s a mistake in some ways - most of us could gain by switching supplier - but when your energy company lets you down, you need to know what their responsibilities are and what you can do about it.
It’s more common than you might think: Energy suppliers have some of the lowest customer satisfaction rates in the UK.
Compared to an average consumer satisfaction rating of 76% for business across Britain, utilities ranked dead last as a sector with 71.4% satisfaction; and that’s not even the whole picture.
When individual energy companies were ranked by Which?, almost half had customer satisfaction scores of 50% or less. (The lowest score? Npower, at 35%!)
Our ratings are based on how a company responds to your complaints. If your supplier’s Customer Powerscore is low, you might want to consider switching!
A major reason why an energy company will have a bad reputation is poor customer service.
Tottering IT systems send out final reminders for £0.00, for instance; bills never arrive, but letters warning about court action for nonpayment do; 18 bills, going back years, arrive on the same day; you get billed for meters that aren’t installed any more.
And since companies subcontract and automate, the chances are that your case has never been in front of someone who knows all the facts and can do something about it, even if you complain.
So while everyone recommends that you complain to your energy company before you complain about them, and you absolutely should do this, it’s mostly a formality.
Complain to your energy company
You should complain to your energy company because some of the steps you can take later require an open complaint.
Find their postal address (it’s on your bills) and write to them by recorded delivery, so they don’t keep you on the phone for up to 48 minutes (the average wait time for the big six) and there’s a record at your end.
Keep a duplicate of your letter, staple your recorded delivery receipt to it and file it with any replies.
You should get a response acknowledging your complaint and explaining what will happen next. Complaints have to be concluded within 8 weeks. (If you want a quicker response, send a copy of your letter to the CEO too.)
But don’t expect too much from this approach.
Writing a letter to the CEO can feel good - but don't get your hopes up
Complain about your energy company
So you started the company’s internal complaints procedure, but you don’t have much faith that anything will actually come of it. What else can you do?
You can complain about the energy company.
One way to do this is to complain by social media. Suppliers use social media to make themselves look good.
They really don’t want your complaint on there.
The more publicity and pressure you can bring to bear, the better the chance someone who can make a decision within the company will actually look at your complaint. But there’s a better, more effective way than trying to go it alone.
Enlist a consumer champion (like us!)
In the space between a company’s internal complaints procedure and the High Court Sheriff, there’s a lot of room for a consumer champion to help you out.
Someone who knows the rules, has regular contact with the company and can get you tons of publicity can push your supplier to act.
At A Spokesman Said we have a simple complaints system that’s easy to use and takes only a few minutes - it’s a lot faster than the average company internal complaints procedure, for instance.
You can see other people’s complaints and we regularly contact companies on our members’ behalf to demand action.
Take David and Kathleen Harvey, who were overcharged for 20 years by British Gas.
They posted on A Spokesman Said and, just 48 hours later, British Gas handed over a cheque for £1316.14 and a luxury food hamper. Result!
If you’re thinking of switching supplier, have a look at what other customers are saying about them first.
If you feel like your energy company’s not listening, maybe it’s time to talk to us instead?