Unfortunately, things don’t always go the way they should with your energy supplier. If you have an issue with your electricity or gas supplier, in the first instance, you should contact your energy provider or district network operator directly to discuss your concerns.
Whether you are a business energy customer or domestic, you will want your complaint to be dealt with promptly. If you are not able to get a satisfactory response, your issue remains unresolved or if you believe your energy supplier is in breach of their legal obligations you may want to escalate the complaint further.
How to complain
Firstly, you should contact your energy supplier and explain your problem and what you want your provider to do about it. Each energy supplier has a complaints procedure that must be followed. This procedure may involve submitting information about your issue, via a letter, on their website or over the phone. If you wish to send a letter, Citizens Advice provide complaint templates that you may find helpful. Make sure you keep a record of what you submitted and when.UK gas and electricity suppliers have an obligation thanks to legislation governing the handling of complaints to deal quickly and effectively to address problems.
Once you have submitted a complaint, your supplier has 8-weeks to inform you what action they will take. Some complaints may require further action. For example, if you are reporting a problem with your meter, your energy supplier may contact you to arrange a time for an engineer to visit.
How to escalate complaints – when to go to the energy ombudsman
If it has been over 8-weeks and you still haven’t resolved your complaint, you may wish to escalate it further.
You can do this by contacting the Energy Ombudsman.
You can contact the Energy Ombudsman to make a complaint in the following instances:
- If you have submitted a complaint to your energy supplier and it has been more than 8-weeks since your complaint was submitted.
- If you believe your energy supplier has been negligent in their response to your complaint.
- It is within 12-months of a having received a ‘deadlock letter’ from your energy supplier. If you have not received a deadlock letter, the Energy Ombudsman might be able to consider a complaint from over a year ago.
If you would like support in dealing with your issue, you can also contact Citizens Advice for free and impartial support. They are also able to support vulnerable customers.
What can the Energy Ombudsman do?
The Energy Ombudsman is approved by Ofgem - the UK gas and electricity regulator - to independently handle disputes between consumers and energy suppliers. In cases where consumers have suffered a financial loss, they may be able to secure you a refund or compensation.
They are mandated to deal with energy suppliers on your behalf and seek to:
- Correct ongoing problems that have not been resolved.
- Seek an apology for poor service or fault.
Can you leave your energy supplier without penalties?
This depends on the stipulations of your current energy contract, so you will need to refer to your electricity or gas contract.
If you have recently moved into a new property, you first need to identify who is your current energy supplier. If you are a tenant, your landlord may be able to tell you, or you could contact the previous occupant.
If you haven’t received your bill, you can contact your energy supplier and ask for details of your current tariff.
If you are a domestic customer on a standard tariff, you can switch to a new provider at any time without penalty. But if you have a fixed-term energy contract there are likely to be exit penalties for leaving the contract before the end date (usually 1-year but can be longer). Exit fees range, but they can be as much as £60 for dual-fuel home energy customers.
If you are on a contract with exit fees, don’t let that put you off comparing home energy deals and business energy contracts. If you find a cheaper deal, it may still be worth switching even accounting for the exit penalty.
For business energy customers, it gets a little more complicated. Business energy contracts cannot be switched to another supplier unless they’re approaching the end of the agreement. You will need to check the contract to find out when the renewal date is.
Can I switch energy supplier?
In most cases, yes! But there are some exceptions.
You cannot switch energy supplier if:
- If you are a tenant and your tenancy agreement states that your landlord is responsible for paying your bills directly.
- If you are a tenant and there is a “default supplier clause” – which states that your landlord has the right to choose your energy supplier – in your tenancy agreement.
- You are a business energy customer under contract, and your renewal date is not approaching.
In other cases there may be restrictions on how you can switch
- If you are a tenant, you should check your tenancy agreement to see if there is a clause relating to informing your landlord should you wish to switch energy supplier, or that if you switch supplier, it must be switched back at the end of the tenancy.
- If you have a prepayment meter, you may be limited to switching to a different prepayment meter tariff unless your landlord agrees that you can have a standard meter installed.
- Business energy customer can lock in prices on their future contracts – each supplier has a different window in the contract do this, but many allow up to 12-months before.
We advise everyone moving into a new property to immediately take meter readings as a record of your energy consumption. If you move into a property with a prepayment meter, you should inform the energy supplier right away that the previous tenant has left so that if they have accrued any debt you will not be liable to repay it.
Switching your home energy supplier or looking for a suitable business energy supplier can seem daunting with dozens of energy providers to choose from and thousands of tariffs. The easiest and cheapest way to ensure you get the best deal is to compare suppliers with Love Energy Savings. We will scour the market and present you with the cheapest available energy tariffs from the UK’s energy providers.