The energy ombudsman saw a 21% increase in complaints about energy suppliers last year, but consumers could miss out on compensation if they don’t follow the correct process.
The ombudsman received 203,000 energy, communications, property and copyright complaints last year but it only resolved 18,000, saying that in the majority of cases it had been contacted too early.
If you want to make a complaint, you must first contact your energy supplier and give it a chance to resolve the issue. If your supplier fails to do this within eight weeks you can then contact the ombudsman.
However, you may also miss out if you leave it too long before contacting the ombudsman, as claims must be received within nine months.
Making an energy complaint
Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron said: ‘It’s good consumers are taking disputes with their energy supplier to the ombudsman, but many more could be missing out on compensation by not escalating their complaints.
‘When Which? investigated earlier this year we found that as many as four million complaints were received last year by the ‘big six’ energy companies, but tens of thousands were still unresolved after eight weeks.
‘If your supplier doesn’t resolve your complaint within eight weeks it’s worth contacting the energy ombudsman. The vast majority of complaints it receives are upheld in the consumer’s favour, with average compensation payouts of £125.’
Learning from complaints
Chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith that the ombudsman is working with companies to help them learn from complaints and to improve the service they offer.
He added: ‘The expectation of the availability of effective independent redress is now a part of everyday life. This is shown in the increasing volume of complaints that we are seeing.’