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A shocking number of complaints to the Big Six

Fix the Big Six campaign logo

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
Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

Anyone who has seen my comments on here or follows me on Twitter etc will know I love nothing more than a good complaint. But for me, I have not made a “formal” complaint about SSE at all the last 6 months.

I do still have problems like everyone else. But now, with the help of Twitter, problems can be fixed right away & you no longer need to follow the “formal complaints procedure”.

Like yesterday. I was not able to login to my SSE online account. I posted a screen shot of this to SSE’s twitter account at 8.37am and had a reply from SSE’s Jo at 8.45am, that’s only 8mins.

I then had a phone call right after from a nice lady called Rosemary, she then in turn got another lady (who I think was called Caroline) who was from the IT department on the same call and within 10mins we managed to get the problem fixed.

I know I could of gone down the formal route, but with Social Media these days they really is no need to & this can only be a good thing.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I would like to know what constitutes a ‘complaint’ and perhaps Kate could explain.

When I was with e.on I probably made two or three phone calls a year to ask for something to be done about my account having a substantial credit balance or being told that my direct debit payment would rise when this was obviously not necessary. I always received a prompt and positive response.

I guess my calls are classed as complaints but it would be interesting to differentiate simple problems such as I have described from more serious problems, for example a call that has to be transferred to a more senior member of staff or requires a follow-up in writing explaining the nature of the problem and what remedy the customer is seeking.

Perhaps someone having a tweet that their energy company is still using a costly phone number or they have been kept waiting too long when they have tried to make contact by phone is a complaint.

Anything from a minor whinge to a serious dispute could be classed as a complaint, so it would be useful to establish what the term means in practice.

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

wavechange,

You have just made me think differently & what you say is correct. As some of us, like me, are moving to Twitter and not making things “formal” via the phone ARE these classed as complaints and are they in the data?

I would guess and say no, but I might be wrong.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

What might drive me to use Twitter is many companies’ insistence on using web forms instead of email and doing their best to hide their contact phone numbers.

I am guessing that a ‘complaint’ would have to be related to a specific account and I don’t know how practical that would be within the limited number of characters imposed by Twitter.

Profile photo of Kate Creagh
Member

Hi wavechange,

The term complaint is really broad. It covers anything where the customer expresses dissatisfaction with the company and its services (the definition is in legislation). So all the examples you’ve given are classed as a complaint.

In the energy sector all complaints are recorded from the point they are made, while in banking they are only recorded after 24 hours. So in the banking sector it sounds like your complaint wouldn’t be classed as such if it was dealt with within 24 hours.

In dealing with complaints energy companies have an 8 week period in which to resolve it to both parties’ satisfaction, otherwise the customer can go to the energy ombudsman. The customer can also go to the ombudsman if the company’s processes have been completed earlier.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks very much for your prompt reply Kate. It is not often I have sympathy for energy companies these days but I do over this issue. It would be a great help to include a brief explanation of what is meant by a complaint in future Conversations and in the magazine since it helps put things in perspective.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Ofgem – State of the Market 2013:
“Our survey evidence showed that in 2013, 43 per cent of customers did not trust energy suppliers to be open and transparent in their dealings with consumers, an increase of 4 percentage points from the previous year.”

Which? above:
“The numbers don’t lie”
“Our consumer insight tracker shows that only one in five people trust energy companies”.
It would be good if statistics could be agreed upon, Who is right? Damned statistics.

I personally wish Which? would stop using inflammatory headlines such as “shocking”, “staggering”, “rip-off”. I don’t need these descriptions to help me decide whether an issue is of great concern from what should be an objective assessment by Which?. I consider these words are best left to the red tops and the politicians – where they just become devalued. But I’m sure I don’t understand the crisis we all face.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Statistics are useful for analysing factual information such as the average energy consumption at different times of day or how it varies throughout the year. But ask people to provide their views or even remember facts and statistics soon become of questionable value. How a question is phrased, the context, what the previous question was and many other factors collectively debase the validity of a survey. That is ignoring any deliberate attempt to influence the information provided. Advertising and questionable statistics provide convenient and familiar examples when teaching the need for critical evaluation.

In the context of this Conversation it would be possible to analyse the nature of complaints and do a valid statistical analysis. That would be useful but probably extremely time consuming. It would ignore the fact that there are people who are dissatisfied but do not comment or complain, for whatever reason.

I hate attention-grabbing presentation too but assume that is used to attract broader input into what can often be useful debate. I presume that all the pathetic puns in Conversation titles is just house style and can cope with that. 🙂

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Wavechange, I am aware of the use and misuse, and selective use, of statistics. It bothers me that two organisations, one whose official job it is to collect reliable data, differ by a factor of 2:1. My instinct is that the 1 in 5 who only trust the energy companies feels extreme and may be chosen to suit the argument. I would feel it was just as big an issue even if “only” 2 in 5 have trust. We must be careful to use data responsibly. I do not believe Which? would deliberately used incorrect data, so it would be useful if they explained how they derived it and how they differ from Ofgem.
This does not detract from the urgent need for energy companies to deal with their customers in a timely and efficient way.
Incidentally, if you want timely and efficiient you might consider many local authorities and government departments who pledge to reply to your e-mail “within 20 to 28 (working) days”.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I know you are well aware of such issues, Malcolm. It was just a general comment because I doubt that the problem is generally appreciated. I agree that we should explore discrepancies and I’m sure that Conversation introductions are written in a way that encourages readers to to explore the topic, find information and make an input.

I agree that we must use data responsibly, but wonder if either of the organisations involved have even presented us with valid data.

Comparing response time with that of other organisations is a worthwhile exercise and something that might lend itself to valid statistical analysis.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I’m not sure where Which? get their numbers and statistics from. They have 254 000 on-line members, so a very large base from which they could extract data. I don’t remember being asked a question about trust – maybe I’ve missed it, but I do fairly regularly get surveys from Which? to complete. Do they tap into all of these potential respondents?

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello Malcolm, just to clarify. Actually Ofgem and us have quite similar data – we both track trust and distrust in energy companies. Ofgem’s data shows 29% trust and 43% don’t trust. Ours shows 21% trust and 47% distrust. The questions asked are phrased slightly differently, we ask whether people trust suppliers to ‘act in your best interests’, and Ofgem asks whether customers trust suppliers to be ‘open and transparent’ which probably accounts for the small difference.

Just to explain how our Consumer Insight Tracker works, we survey 2,000 UK adults who are representative of the whole population each month. We value the views of our members and we know that they are concerned about energy prices, but we also know that non-members are too, and we want our data to be relevant for the whole of the UK. You can explore our consumer insight tracker here: http://consumerinsight.which.co.uk/tracker

On ‘shocking’ being in the title. As Wavechange points out, it was a cheeky pun. I’m sorry that our puns turn you off (sorry, couldn’t resist), but we felt it also nicely reflected the fact that these are record complaints numbers.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

correction, Which say only 20% trust energy companies. Ofgem say 57% (assumed because 43% don’t). So the difference is nearly 3:1. There must be a difference in the question asked?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Thanks for the explanation Patrick – it does seem to be how the numbers are interpreted. When you show only 1 in 5 trust energy companies, there is an implication that 4 in 5 don’t. This is not what the fuller information shows. In fact, around half don’t. I don’t think the question “act in your best interests” is appropriate – a public company with shareholders will act in the interests of its shareholders, almost by definition. Clearly its success will also depend upon retaining customers, but they are not going to put them first (even though they should be a very close second). Ofgem’s question seems more relevant and realistic.
Regarding puns in headlines, it does seem to be the current fashion to use them to get attention, but I do confess to an inherent resistance to them.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I believe that energy companies don’t command much trust is because consumers know that generating dividends for shareholders and expanding their market share are high priorities. Energy is vital to all of us and I cannot understand why all aspects of the industry are not under strict government control to make it more responsible to consumers. I am certainly not opposed to energy supply being run by business and having competition is beneficial.

If you don’t trust an organisation, I think you are more likely to complain.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, “Energy is vital to all of us “. So is food, housing, and, for many, commuting costs. These are likely to each cost us a lot more than energy. So what are we planning to do about controlling the companies that provide these?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

With food there does seem to be more choice of supplier, though the growth of supermarkets has put a lot of smaller shops out of business. There probably is need for more regulation and many of our contributors would like to put an end to the games supermarkets play over multi-buys. As far as I know there is a fair amount of competition in the housing sector. It’s not something I know a lot about but if there is unfair practice then that deserves attention. Perhaps the government could provide incentives for businesses etc to move away from those places where there is a shortage of affordable housing and that would at least help some avoid commuting.

If you can suggest any practical measures that will help the population cope better with rising prices then you are likely to have my support. I have not noticed too many other contributors defending the energy industry as much as you seem to. It is something we will have to agree to differ on.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

wavechange, I am not a defender of the energy companies, but do like to keep issues in perspective and fairly presented; otherwise we can promote a distorted view of the situation, as I think the trust figure does here, the way it is presented.
The point I was making about other major expenditures was they account for much more of our budget than energy. Housing is not competitive – look at rents, house prices in the south east, for example; they are all market driven – supply and demand. Very little social housing – I cannot understand the selling off of council houses for example. I have previously suggested promoting the relocation of businesses, goverment departments and public bodies outside the south-east both to help the housing shortage, and to reduce commuting.
I think with food the trade off is price vs. quality rather than overall competition. Petrol and diesel prices do not vary much in a given area.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I’m sorry if my comment was unfair, Malcolm.

I very much agree about sale of council houses unless they are replaced. Apart from relocation of businesses etc. I do not know of any practical measures for making housing costs more equitable other than by penalising those who have chosen to live in cheaper areas.

Anyway, this Conversation is about complaints to energy suppliers and I fully support the need to have reliable and fair data.

Profile photo of RJNeb2
Member

My form of complaint towards the incompetence of EDF is to instigate a move to another provider. The fact that they started billing me not only for electricity for my flat but also for the flat above me is just the tip of the iceberg. Repeated requests to get this sorted out fell on deaf ears. I will say that their Live Chat service is quite responsive but it’s the only way of actually getting anything done. Emails go unanswered and unacknowledged while with phone calls you’re looking at a minimum 20 minute wait to actually get through to anyone. I just want to extricate myself from this shower as soon as possible, to the extent that I settled an outstanding debt with them through the correct channels. And guess what? They can find no record of it. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Profile photo of jgh30
Member

A year ago I settled a long-drawn-out issue with nPower. I promptly sent the appropriate member of “Executive Complaints” a cheque for the balance (after allowing an agreed sum for inconvenience) and transferred my custom.

A few weeks later a letter arrived (via my bank) from an accounts clerk stating plaintively that she had the cheque but no means of identifying the account to which it related. A prompt, brief reply was given. The cheque is shown as paid in on my bank statement.

This month I received a ‘reminder’ referring to a non-existent ‘recent invoice’ and demanding payment of the settlement amount within 7 days if debt collection was to be avoided.

Having no confidence in Npower’s complaints handlers ( executive or other), I emailed the chief executive personally (using the excellent CEO website) informing him that I had reason to believe that an offence had been committed under the Fraud Act and giving him the appropriate caution.

He has not bothered to respond or deny that an offence has taken place but the matter was referred to ‘executive complaints’ who volunteered to refund the whole of my settlement payment as a gesture of goodwill. Their cheque for this is now shown on my bank statement.

It was never, of course, my intention to extract money from nPower by mentioning criminal proceedings. This could be perceived as blackmail and the initiative for my receiving payment came entirely from nPower. However, to protect myself from such allegations, I must now progress the criminal proceedings as though their payment had never happened.

Don’t you hate companies with stupid names that show up as typos on spell checkers?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

For the record, this is from Ofgem’s report:
“Moreover, a total of 43 per cent of consumers did not trust energy suppliers to be open and transparent in their dealings with them in 2013, compared to 39 per cent in the previous year.49 In 2013, nearly one in five consumers (18 per cent) said they ‘completely’ distrusted energy suppliers in this regard; up five percentage points from 2012 when only 13 per cent reported this.” (I hope this isn’t the 1 in 5 reported by Which?!)
They show complaints per 100 000 accounts from 2008 to Q4 2013. The latter are (approximately):
npower: 8000
EDF 4000
Scottish Power 3500
E.ON 3200
Centrica 2500
SSE 1700
Average 3500.
The average in Q4 2008 was 2000.
So they range from 1.7% to 8%.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Kate,we recently had an appalling time with First Utility and had to go to the ombudsman for help because First Utility constantly ignored us and continued making multiple mistakes. First Utility have only two days left to implement the ombudsman’s decisions. Does anybody know what sanction(s) First Utility will receive if they fail to comply?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

What are the complaint levels / trust for all the other utility companies. Why are we just concentrating on the Big 6?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

It would be interesting to have a breakdown of the nature of complaints. I assume that they are mainly about issues specific to individuals and will include many minor complaints.

I think it is fair to say that there is considerable distrust in the energy industry and with Ofgem, the regulator. My main concern is the complexity of pricing, which means that consumers cannot make a simple price comparison, like they can with the price of petrol, baked beans, fridges and washing machines. There are many adults in this country who don’t make use of price comparison websites etc. to find out whether they are getting their energy at the best price. Many people are not good at money management. Many wiho cope well will lose the ability or the will to shop around as they get older, though they could probably still manage to compare simple unit prices.

I would like to see Which? submit a SUPER-COMPLAINT about energy companies. It is about four years since their super-complaint about unreasonable debit and credit card charges was upheld. There was a super-complaint (by Energywatch) about energy billing but some of the data presented was very poor and the complaint was unsuccessful, though it resulted in some useful recommendations by Ofgem. I am confident that Which? can do much better. Obviously it is essential to be absolutely sure of the facts and not just to criticise the ‘big six’ if smaller companies are equally guilty.

Obviously there are other commonly cited criticisms of the energy industry. Failure to lower prices promptly when there is a substantial decrease in wholesale prices is topical. The government or Ofgem needs to place much more control on our energy industry while not interfering with fair competition between companies. We need our energy industry to focus more on the needs of consumers than shareholders, and the same should apply to other industries that are privileged to provide public services.

Like many people I am very unhappy with what has happened in the energy industry since privatisation. I believe that it is wrong that other countries have so much control of our energy supply and like many people I believe that it is wrong to continue spending money on onshore wind turbines, when we really need a much more balanced view on renewable energy supply. Obviously these problems are more to do with government than the industry.

Member
m ner says:
19 June 2014

I have sent n power fax to leave. When asked to leave they say neverd had fax from me which i did about two month ago.

now I have to go with npower with double the rate of unit. any advice please.

Thanks 20 june 2014

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

m ner, If you have not already lodged a formal complaint with N power do so now. N Power then has eight weeks to respond. If they don’t put matters right, complain to Ombudsman Services Energy and they will take up your case. Their telephone number is 0330 440 1624.If you have already complained to N power and it was eight weeks or more since you did so contact the ombudsman now. We have recently had to involve the ombudsman do to the appalling behaviour of the energy company, First Utility. Hope this helps.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

“Ofgem is requiring npower to resolve major billing issues no later than the end of August 2014 and publish monthly progress updates on its website. Failure to meet monthly targets will result in npower ceasing all proactive telesales to new customers until they are met. The parallel investigation into npower’s customer service failings is the first case to be opened under Ofgem’s new Standards of Conduct (SoC) and could lead to a financial penalty or redress payment if they are found to have broken rules.”

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Listening to the radio I heard some topical news and then found this on the BBC website:

“Energy supplier Npower has been told that it may have to stop sales to new customers unless it can send out bills on time.

The regulator, Ofgem, has warned the supplier that it needs to meet monthly targets on late billing.

Unless it meets the targets by the end of August, Npower will have to stop all “proactive telesales” to new customers, the regulator warned.

In a statement, Npower said that it was apologising to its customers “again”.

The company has topped the complaints tables for the “big six” energy firms every quarter since the end of 2012.”

Member
Susie F says:
20 June 2014

Having sent my complaint re npower to the Ombudsman in March, this has just been resolved and I should be getting £150 for all the hassle. I can appreciate the fact that npower has now requested, in their letter of apology(very badly written and unsigned) new meter readings. I did this by phone, answered very quickly, given the name of the person dealing with the complaint without having to ask and having only given my a/c number and put through to her. She requested my address, fine, but why would she need to ask what fuels I have as she has it on the screen in front of her and why does she need my date of birth – “needed under the Data Protection Act” so under the DPA, I decided to withhold it so then she needed my phone number and email address. We then went round in circles as I had been sent a statement for August2012-November2013 last week but dated February 2014 but she did not know who had sent this or why – but she is the person designated to deal with my complaint which has been resolved and you would think she would know. My complaint to the Ombudman was actually about the way npower had dealt with my complaint – so a complaint about a complaint!! I have a folder 2 inches thick dating back about 15 months and it is my ambition to throw it away – but I think I may need to keep it a bit longer. When it is all done I am changing supplier!!

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Susie, You definitely need to keep your 2inch thick folder. We are keeping ours regarding First Utility which is also 2 inches thick. First Utility have been instructed by the ombudsman to send us £130 as a goodwill gesture . They also need to send a written apology and send us a final bill on the correct tariff at our current address. Apparently First Utility are having difficulty in working this out . I find this unbelievable and so did the ombudsman.( We changed supplier in April). The deadline for First Utility to comply with the ombudsman’s remedy was yesterday, . Having informed Ombudsman’s Services that First Utility have failed to comply, they are referring the matter to their ” Remedy Implementation Team”. Watch this space!.( It took First Utility 7 months to reimburse us £256 in respect of our previous address).

Member
Val Hollins says:
21 June 2014

Just going through a gruelling time complaining to Scottish Power, and I’ve now handed it all to the ombudsman. Basically, Scottish Power are having a problem recognising that THEY installed a new gas meter at my property in June 2013. Despite regular phone calls to them we did not receive a gas bill from June 2013 to April 2014. This straddled the end of our fixed deal and we were unable to change to a new deal as ‘our bill wasn’t up to date’ – even though it was due to their incompetence that they couldn’t make the bills up to date. Our account is now ‘deadlocked’ whilst the ombudsman investigates our complaint. This hasn’t prevented Scottish Power with threatening debt collection on the unsubstantiated £201 they say we owe. I’m very stressed!

Profile photo of Martin Pinder
Member

See my post below on my problems with Scottish Power!

Profile photo of langworthy
Member

edf follow the industry standard of using algorithms to calculate monthly payments which are designed to accrue large balances in their account.
Earlier this year they notified me of an increase to £130 per month from £94.
Several emails between us followed until they reluntantly agreed that their own figures showed that £100 per month was more than enough to cover the projected consumption.

Last week I completed the transfer to Co-op Energy at a monthly cost of £94.70 and a refund from edf of £16.30.
Whilst these sums may be small to some, for a pensioner £35+ per month is a very significant part of my budget. I am hoping that my faith in the Co-op is confirmed having been a member for 59 years.

Member
Power arranGA says:
5 August 2014

langworthy: using algorithms to calculate monthly payments which are designed to accrue large balances in their account seems an industry-wide practice. EoN have just developed a new twist to this, based on the premise that ‘more energy will be used than previously’. Even though we’re in credit, and reducing energy use, the pensioners writing are facing a monthly Direct Debit increase from £116 to £287. They have a new tool in their armoury: a web tool which lets you set your own Direct Debit. Unfortunately, it only let me drop down to £194 a month. I’ve complained, but haven’t got hold of anyone in authority yet. Looks like I’ll be going down the same complaints route, plus Age UK may be interested.

Profile photo of rosealee
Member

In respect of Twitter it is once again a reminder that not everyone is on these sites and some people cannot even access a computer,why should they be penalised by not having their issues/complaints resolved quickly?

Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

Forgive me if I’m wrong. But I can’t see where anyone has said that people should be penalised by not having their issues/complaints resolved quickly?

Twitter is a help as less people will be phoning up so people who do not use twitter should be able to speak to someone quicker too?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

It seems to me that any method of communication that gets a response is there to be used. Once upon a time the only way was to write a letter. We’ve moved on. What is needed is an acknowledgement by these organisations that all methods of communication need to be dealt with promptly – letter, phone or electronic.
If you think communication with private companies is bad, try contacting your local authority, government department or other public body. A standard response to an e-mail is, often, that they will aim to reply within 20 (working) days. They need to move into the real world as “public servants”.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

It perhaps recording that my recorded delivery letter to First Utility informing them that we were moving to a new supplier resulted in a reasonably quick response also by letter post.

Profile photo of dave newcastle
Member

Sorry, about the above typing errors, the first phrase should have been ” It is perhaps worth recording….”

Profile photo of ReggieCide
Member

My concern is about the role of comparison sites in the issues raised here. I recently emailed uSwitch to tell them that, following its recommendation, I had switched energy suppliers, but that 9 months later the suppliers involved (Scottish Power & First Utility) could still not agree on who was now supplying my gas and both wanted to charge me. uSwitch effectively responded that its comparisons are based on price alone and trusts its suppliers to provide good service. I can see why comparison sites might take this stance (Which’s too?) but hadn’t fully understood the implications before. I wonder how many people do fully understand the implications, which I think probably include encouraging energy suppliers to give less attention to customer service than they otherwise might.

Profile photo of Martin Pinder
Member

You know, I was really surprised to see above that Scottish power has the lowest level of complaints. I am a Scottish Power customer & I am trying to have my faulty gas meter replaced. Scottish Power are nearly impossible to contact. The wait on the phone is unacceptably long at any time of day & sometimes one receives the message ‘Due to the high volume of calls, we are unable to answer your call at this time. Please try again later’, Then one is cut off. This happens as I said at any time of day. When I first complained it took 25 minutes for them to answer. They sent someone round about ten days later, who arrived for the appointment 1.5 hours late & out of temper & said that he didn’t have time to do the job. Then he cleared off never to be seen again. I tried to re-contact Scottish power by phone to no avail. I therefore sent them an e-mail to which I have yet to receive a reply (10 days). I finally got through to them yesterday morning on the phone at 11 am after a 45 minute wait & repeated my problem. The operator said that he would raise the job again & that I would be called back to arrange an appointment. I am still waiting for that call! Meanwhile I have been getting free gas since January as the meter does not record the gas used at all! Why should I bother? You would think that they would be there like a shot. So far they have lost hundreds of pounds & they don’t seem to care! Imagine if it was the other way round & that I had a problem with my gas supply & nothing worked. Don’t give your custom to Scottish Power, they are rubbish.

Member

I too have been having problems with Scottish Power – dual fuel. I switched to Ovo in May 2014 and cancelled my direct debit to Scottish Power because my account was well in credit, I knew I would owe them a few pounds to settle the account but I didn’t want them taking another months worth in case I couldn’t get it back. And in any case, my online acocunt showed my next DD amount as £0.
My online gas bill appeared on 20 May – no problem and showing a healthy credit ready for the electricity bill
On 3 June I was even sent a refund of £24, suggesting I was in credit overall.
But no sign of an electricity bill.
In June I got a letter from them telling me that I’d cancelled my DD.
I replied, saying that I would check my account online regularly and pay any outstanding amount when the bill appeared.
On 25 June, I got a letter saying that I owed them £31 – the outstaning amount on my electricity bill. But no sign of a bill for me to check.
I paid it on 27 June, knowing it was probably about right, but still not having seen the bill.
I just didn’t want to risk a black mark on any credit score.
And since then, I have been trying to get sight of my final bill.
I have tried online requests several times and been promised it online and though the post.
I haven’t wasted time phoning as they take so long to answer and I’d get the same response anyway.
In response to a message on 21 July, I was promised a bill in 3-5 days. No bill.
In response to a reminder on 10 August, I was promised a bill by post in 3-5 days.
It’s now the 10th (working day) and still no sign of my final electricity bill, either online or by post.
Usleless.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Sorry to hear of the problems you’re experiencing Jim. We’ve an array of template letters to assist your complaint to an energy provider if any of these come in handy: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/make-a-complaint. Fingers crossed for a successful solution for you soon.

Member

Success at long last, but not without yet another demonstration of incompetence…..
I emailed yet another reminder on 30 August (18 days / 11 working days) and I got a fairly quick reply on 3 September. With yet another copy of my final gas bill and no mention at all of electricity. I replied almost immediately stressing that it was the electricity bill I was missing. And after refering to the complaints procedure on the Scottish Power website I also asked for a “unique complaints reference number” so I could escalate the complaint to the Customer Service Director. It clearly did the trick and I now have my final electricity bill. Success indeed, but it begs one more question. On 25 June I got the letter saying I owed them £31 as a final amount. At the time, I thought it may have been the bottom line from my final bill. But now that I have got it, my final bill is dated 13 August. I will leave that question unanswered, I think. I’m glad to see the back of Scottish Power and I don’t think I’d return, even if they did manage to come up with a good deal.

Member
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.

Member
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.

Member
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.

Member
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!

Member
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.

Member

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.

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Member

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

Member
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

Member
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