A Basic Look at Energy Complaints
There’s a lot of different things which you need to keep in mind when it comes to energy complaints. Naturally, you’re going to want to make sure that you have an issue with a fundamental service, you know how you can resolve it. There are many different types of grievances which can be raised against companies regarding their services, and these can include things like:
- Problems switching providers (severance fees, hidden costs).
- The supplying of energy to your home, typically when it stops.
- The gas and/or electricity bills which you have to pay.
- The way that you were sold your energy – typically door-to-door salesmen.
- Any loss of energy during extreme weather when it is needed most.
When you attempt to contact an energy network to complain, you’ll find that typically you are following a specific formula for a successful interaction. The large companies which deal with complaints handling, whether outsourced or in-house, often just aren’t moved by your problems and will instead attempt to resolve things with you as quickly as possible.
Therefore, you need to be ready. It begins with assessing who your energy provider is, and making sure that you have a direct method of contacting them – they need to be aware that an issue has occurred and that it needs fixing. Owing to the strict regulations surrounding complaints handling, you will find that any company, when confronted with a problem, is required to solve it proactively. However, this can take in some cases up to eight weeks.
When you’ve worked out where to submit a complaint, check their website. Typically, there is a portion of the site devoted to the complaints process, where you’ll be required to fill out details. If this is not to your taste, then you can always speak to someone. Remember to come with a solution to the problem as well, instead of complaining pointlessly. For example, if you have no power, then the answer is to restore it. If there’s no gas, then your request should be to have gas restored to you.
When it comes to the resolution of complaints, you will find that you do have a handful of options available to you. There are things that you can do when you see that a complaint has not been resolved in the way that you would like.
First of all, the supplier will make an effort to resolve the problem for you. Whether this involves something they can do on their end, or sending someone to you, there will be an attempt made to correct the issue. If you are not satisfied with this, then you must tell them. You can take your complaint even higher to an energy ombudsman if certain conditions are met. You must be unhappy with the service, you haven’t resolved the issue, and it has been the standard eight weeks since you complained, and you’ve also received a letter of deadlock, which stipulates that the supplier can not fix the issue or feels that they will do no more for you.
Tips for Complaining
If you have never had to make a complaint to a provider, then you may find that it can be challenging to resolve it. Therefore, you may need to have some tips and tricks ready.
A successful complaint requires you to prepare ahead of time, and make sure that you are ready to confront the company with facts. If, for example, your issue is one which relates to the bills you are being made to pay, have proof of existing statements ready to demonstrate why there is a discrepancy.
When you ring the provider, which is always a better option, you should make sure that you are conducting yourself calmly and professionally. There is no sense in allowing anger or frustration to dictate your actions – when you speak, remember that you are looking to accomplish something, and not get into an argument. Make sure however, that you are communicating your displeasure. If you’re not getting the energy you’re paying for, then it’s a breach of contract and should be treated as such.
When dealing with an issue of any kind, you should also make sure you log details about the call. Make a note of who you spoke to, what was said, and when the conversation took place. This information allows you to refer back during future communications.
In some instances, you will find that your supplier is not helping you to resolve the issue. They may refuse to communicate effectively, they may not even endeavour to fix the problem entirely, and you have every right to feel like you can get professional advice elsewhere.
That’s where Citizens Advice comes into play. They’re a charity organisation which has been set up to give counsel to people who need it. Their aptly named ‘advice guide’ will help you to figure out what your rights are and what you can do to make sure that you’re getting a quick resolution. In some cases, this may be a case of putting you in touch with a third party who can deal with the problem for you, in other cases it may just be giving you the resources required to sort things for yourself. However, they’re a handy resource and one which you should keep in mind for yourself.
The Energy Ombudsman
If all else fails, this is an option which you have available to you in an attempt to try and get a resolution to your problem. You may have heard us talk about this service before, and so we’re going to cover it adequately here to make sure that you understand what is available to you.
The ombudsman is a third party which has been authorised to act on behalf of you to try and make sure that your problem is resolved promptly. After all, no one wants to spend too long without their energy issue being sorted.
This is a team of people who can work to resolve an issue for you. You may not have the time or the right level of patience left to sort things out – after all, you’re in the middle of a situation, and you’re probably very annoyed now. They can step in, collect information about the circumstances and get involved. This option is a legitimate authority which is recognised by providers all across the country, and they tend to get things done.
When it comes to moving forward, you have to make sure that you’re making the right choices to stop yourself from making a mistake further down the line. There’s so much that you need to try and keep in mind when it comes to making sure that you’re getting the absolute most from your complaints. There’s a lot of different processes, and you have to pick the right ones.
As a general rule, it is important to remember that the energy providers will often have their internal complaint system which they will ask you to follow. However, you’re equally within your rights to ring up and talk to a member of the customer service team. We appreciate that these kinds of conversations can be annoying, and so it’s important not to lose your temper or get annoyed. Instead, make sure that you’re trying to communicate clearly and with intention. It’s easy to get agitated, but if you try and maintain a clear head, you’re more likely to get a positive outcome. However, if things move to the point that you’re not okay with, then you’re more than within your rights to take it to a third party. Just remember to get that letter of deadlock, and to have fulfilled all the other options first – while it can be annoying, you have to stick to doing things by the book.