Npower fined by Ofgem on customer complaintsWhich? says people are 'fed up' with poor service

31 October 2011

The energy regulator has fined Npower £2 million for poor handling of customer complaints.

Ofgem said that Npower had failed to properly record customer complaints and hadn't passed on details of the Energy Ombudsman for customers to escalate their issues.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: 'Ofgem is absolutely right to penalise energy suppliers that aren't dealing with complaints properly. People are fed up with bad customer service, and suppliers must now work hard to win back their customers' trust.'

Npower has already taken action to solve the problems with its complaints handling and make sure that it complies with Ofgem's complaints regulations.

British Gas fined for complaints

Npower's fine is the second to be issued to a major energy supplier in the last six months. In July Ofgem proposed a £2.5million fine for British Gas for similar complaints-handling issues.

Ofgem said that British Gas had 'failed to re-open complaints when the customer had indicated that the complaint was not resolved'. 

The regulator is also investigating EDF Energy for apparent breaches of the rules on complaints handling.

Richard Lloyd added: 'We all pay for the Energy Ombudsman through our bills, so the least we should expect is to be told about the service when we make a complaint. 

Complaining about energy companies

Energy suppliers are bound by strict Ofgem rules on how they should handle your complaints. 

  • Complain to it in the first instance, ideally in writing.
  • Your energy supplier has a set time limit in which to reply – eight weeks for major suppliers, 16 weeks for smaller ones.
  • If the supplier doesn't respond, or can't resolve your complaint, you can escalate it to the Energy Ombudsman.

With low consumer trust in energy suppliers, it's important that companies make sure their complaints handling lives up to the regulator's standards. 

Sarah Harrison, an Ofgem spokeswoman, said: 'Energy suppliers now have a golden opportunity to convince consumers that they can be trusted, by getting behind Ofgem's sweeping reforms for the retail market.' 

She added: 'This is the quickest way of restoring consumer trust in an industry badly tarnished by poor supplier behaviour.'

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