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A shocking number of complaints to the Big Six

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We’ve just published the latest stats for complaints to the Big Six energy suppliers. And the figures show that they’re getting more of them than ever. If there was ever a time for change, it’s now.

The Big Six energy suppliers received a staggering 1.7 million complaints between January-March 2014. That’s a 15% increase over the same period in 2013. It’s also the highest number of complaints received in a single quarter since records began in 2012.

Npower tops the table, getting 83 complaints for every 1,000 customers, while Scottish Power received the lowest number, with only 13 complaints per 1,000. Complaints to both SSE and British Gas have doubled in the past six months, at about 30 per 1,000 customers.

In response to these latest stats, an Npower spokeswoman told us:

‘While we have seen issues with our billing system, which have affected some customers, we’re now beginning to make progress. We’re billing 95% of our customers on time and in the past three weeks we have reduced our total complaints by 32% as well as resolving 88% of complaints within 24 hours.’

The energy to complain

Energy supplier complaintsThe numbers don’t lie – energy companies are clearly letting down their customers with poor service. And this isn’t doing any good for the low levels of consumer trust in the market.

Our consumer insight tracker shows that only one in five people trust energy companies and it’s been at this low level for a while. If suppliers want to start improving this, they need to up their game now rather than waiting for the results of the proposed competition review.

Why do you think complaints are on the rise? Have you complained to an energy company recently? What was your experience? Did you end up going to the Ombudsman?

Comments
Graham says:
20 July 2014

I made a complaint to nPower, because on an account that was in credit by a few pounds, and on their own estimate ( which I fully agreed was fair) of consumption would bill me £960 in the next year, decided that my Direct debit needed to go up to £93 per month. I complained and asked them to justify the their figure. The answer was based on excessive estimates and some very strange rounding, with one fuel being rounded up by £7 per month, and the other rounded down by the same amount. I complained again and said that they were deliberately inflating consumption estimates unfairly. They denied that and said that they would send me a deadlock letter, so that I could go to the ombudsman. But within an hour they phoned back and asked that I accept £75 in compensation. I said that wasn’t enough – I got £100 in the end.

Brian Pastore says:
25 July 2014

I have been with Eastern Electricity now known as Eon for 48 years without any complaints until June .I was paying £58 per month and the meter man came and the next month they took £131.00 from my account.I thought I would check the electricity meter and sure enough he had read the meter wrongly.I phoned Eon with the right readings and when I went on line to check my account I was £256.00 in credit.I had just had an eye test and had to buy spectacles for the sum of £199.99.I phoned Eon and asked them to refund £200 to my bank account as I had a large bill to pay and I am 76years old and I had to phone four times to get the refund.I am now leaving Eon as I am fed up with the so called big six and going with Ecotricity which is a green company.As it happens I will be paying £5 per month extra but I don’t care as I will be doing some good to the planet.

David Shelstone says:
23 August 2014

British Gas customers – if you’ve received an estimated bill recently, check it very carefully and send accurate readings.

They estimated my Nan’s April – July readings (following Jan and April meter reader / customer reading), sending an eye watering £300 statement for those three summer months.

Sent in accurate meter readers, and she’s actually used £70 worth of Gas.

Power arranGA says:
27 August 2014

I have been told by EoN that my complaint about a 174% increase in my Direct Debit has been upheld (pending internal checking), no reason, no apology given (see my post 5 August – you’ll find it lodged with others of 21 June date for some reason). As an addendum, this is an ‘Age UK’ fixed contract. Fixed not only for a set period, but their welcome pack states the Direct Debits are fixed also. It had better be true!

Yvonne says:
5 October 2014

Scottish Power have been billing me incorrectly for the past 18 months. I am paying nearly three times more for my gas than I should be. This is because Scottish Power have me in their system as having an imperial meter whenI have a metric meter. I have had all the problems as the other people above trying to get through toScottish Power. Thy don’t answer emails or phone back when they have promised to do so. I went to deadlock and thereafter the ombudsman made a decision in my favour. Scottish Power had 28 days to resolve the problem. They have failed to do so and now say that my account is unworkable, whatever that means. They told me they would put a hold on my account and I would not receive any bills until the problem was resolved. Well what do you know I received a bill. When I phoned they said they did not understand how that had happened. They told me to ignore it. Two weeks later I received a reminder despite being assured I woukd not get one. I got a letter from them telling me that the goodwill payment the ombudsman had told them to pay me was in the post. However I discovered that they had credited the payment to my account instead. I have tried to contact the ombudsman but they do not seem to be interested and despite my repeated requests for someone from the ombudsman service to contact me re Scottish Power’s failure to comply no one has contacted me. I have been to my MP who has said he will write to Scottish Power however Scottish Power customer relations department told me that would make no difference. I am powerless and do not know where to turn to next for help. My husband has Huntington’s Disease and I have many things to worry about and this problem with Scottish Power is starting to make me ill.

Not sure if this will help, but you could try the Parliamentary Ombudsman Service re poor service from the energy ombudsman. http://www.ombudsman.org.uk

You could also try Trading Standards and give full details about the energy ombudsman’s decision. If you pay your bill by credit card, you could think about doing a chargeback. Or just take them to the Small Claims Court.

Claiming money that is not due can be a criminal offence. I have found that the only way to get sense out of Npower is to send their Chief Executive (see excellent CEO site for Scottish Power’s address) an email starting “You do not have to say anything but” etc. CAB might be able to help you with this.

Good luck

gary says:
4 November 2014

I had a faulty gas meter from about jan 2014 but did not notice till may informed npower who changed in july after 3 times previous did not show. now they still send me bills for £900? I have a 1 bedroom house use more electricity than gas so how can they justify and not acknowledge they do not know what they are doing’ lost count of the times I have rung and have been cut of a few times. diabolical treatment

gary says:
4 November 2014

I had a faulty gas meter from about jan 2014 but did not notice till may informed npower who changed in july after 3 times previous did not show. now they still send me bills for £900? I have a 1 bedroom house use more electricity than gas so how can they justify and not acknowledge they do not know what they are doing’ lost count of the times I have rung and have been cut of a few times. diabolical treatment