How to complain

Top tips

  • If you have a problem contact your energy supplier

  • Unless it is a simple problem, put your complaint in writing

  • Keep copies of all bills and correspondence

  • Contact Consumer Direct for more advice

Most complaints about energy companies are about inaccurate, late or unclear energy bills. The Code of Practice for Accurate Bills from the Energy Retail Association sets out requirements for how energy bills should be calculated and issued.

What to do about poor service from your energy supplier

Energy suppliers are legally bound to stick to any service standards outlined in your contract. You'll find terms of service outlined either on the back of your bill, on your energy provider's website or by asking your gas and electricity company for a copy.

All gas and electricity companies must also follow the Guaranteed Standards of Performance set by energy regulator Ofgem. These say energy suppliers must pay fixed compensation for occurrences such as power cuts, missed appointments and not responding to queries.

If you have a dispute about a gas or electricity bill you should first complain to your energy supplier. If you receive a deadlock letter (saying it can do no more) or if your complaint is still unresolved after eight weeks, you can escalate your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman, an independent body set up to resolve disputes about energy companies.

The service is free to consumers and the Ombudsman can award compensation to people who have received particularly poor service from an energy supplier. It is worth considering, as 95% of cases have been upheld in favour of the customer and 70% of complaints resulted in a payment – the average amount was £125.

How to complain about poor service

Writing letter

Write a letter to your energy supplier explaining your complaint

1. Write to your energy supplier

You should complain directly to your energy supplier in the first instance - its details will be on your bill. Unless it's a simple problem, you should put your energy complaint in writing, either in a letter or email. Make sure you keep a copy of anything you send, including energy bills, and note when they were sent.

Which? have put together a variety of template letters for complaining about specific issues. Follow the links below to find a helpful template for your complaint.

If your problem involves energy billing or meter readings, it's important to make a note of gas and electricity meter readings, and to record the dates on which they were taken.

2. Get further energy advice

If your energy supplier doesn't resolve the problem or you're unhappy with its response, you can contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service for further advice about resolving your complaint.

It can give advice but cannot take up your complaint with an energy supplier on your behalf. If appropriate, Consumer Direct may forward the details of your complaint to an agency that is authorised to take direct action, such as Trading Standards.

If you are a vulnerable consumer (such as a low-income household or you receive certain benefits) Citizens Advice Consumer Service can refer you to Consumer Focus which may be able to take up your complaint on your behalf through its Extra Help Unit. Consumer Focus will not be able to take up your complaint unless you've given your energy supplier a chance to resolve the problem first, so you'll need to explain how the supplier responded to your complaint and why you're unhappy with its response.

Citizens Advice Consumer Service covers suppliers and customers in England, Wales and Scotland. Consumer complaints about energy suppliers in Northern Ireland are dealt with by the Consumer Council . The UREGNI (Utility Regulator Electricity Gas and Water) is the energy regulator in Northern Ireland.

3. Take it to the Energy Ombudsman

Energy suppliers have eight weeks in which to resolve most complaints. 

If your complaint to your energy supplier is still unresolved after that time, or if you have reached a deadlock, contact the Energy Ombudsman. A deadlock means you've been through your energy company's complaints procedure and reached a point where your supplier says they can do nothing more to produce a satisfactory solution.

The Ombudsman has the power to decide what action should be taken and can force an energy supplier to take action. This could take the form of practical steps to sort your problem out, an apology, explanation or compensation.

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