Two of the UK’s biggest energy companies have been fined a total of £4.5 million for their poor handling of customer complaints.
Energy regulator Ofgem has confirmed penalties of £2.5m for British Gas, and £2m for Npower.
The fines follow an Ofgem investigation which found energy customers were unhappy with the level of service they received from energy companies.
Energy company complaints
Ofgem first announced plans to fine British Gas and Npower last year, after both companies were found in breach of regulations which set out how energy companies should deal with complaints from customers (both domestic and small businesses).
Find out how British Gas and Npower scored in our latest survey which reveals the best and worst energy companies.
Following consultation with the energy companies, Ofgem said the fines would remain at £2.5m for British Gas – which represents 0.02% of the company’s turnover in 2010 – and £2m for Npower. Both companies have to pay the penalty by 22 February 2012.
Four million energy complaints
Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron said: ‘A Which? investigation has found that a staggering four million complaints were received by the six biggest energy suppliers last year.
‘As part of our Affordable Energy campaign, we want Ofgem, as the regulator, to be given new powers by the government, so that it can demand detailed information about complaints from the energy companies. Making this data public will allow consumers to compare suppliers based on how many complaints they get, and how well they handled them.’
How to complain about an energy supplier
Energy suppliers are bound by strict Ofgem rules on how they should handle your complaints. If you have a problem with an energy supplier you should:
- Complain to it in the first instance, ideally in writing.
- If your energy supplier doesn’t resolve the problem or you’re unhappy with its response, you can contact Consumer Direct for further advice about resolving your complaint.
- If the supplier doesn’t resolve your complaint after eight weeks, you can escalate it to the Energy Ombudsman.