Complaints against energy firms soar over prices and poor service

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Complaints against energy companies are soaring, with customers increasingly angry about rises in the cost of gas and electricity and poor customer service.

The sector’s ombudsman recorded a 224 per cent rise on the first quarter of 2013 with a total of 10,638 complaints, compared with 3,277 received during the same period last year.

The numbers suggest that 2014 will see more complaints overall, as there were 17,960 complaints made over a 12-month period last year.

The latest figures from Ombudsman Services show increases of record levels, and come soon after regulator Ofgem said that it was referring the sector to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full-scale competition inquiry.

More than 2,000 consumers complained about not receiving bills, while 1,474 people made complaints about billing charges. More than 1,000 consumers criticised the quality of customer service.

Chief Energy Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith called for increased transparency in the wake of the figures released.

The sector is already reeling from the threat from Ed Miliband’s Labour party that it will freeze energy bills by law if they are elected to power in 2015.

A spokeswoman for Energy UK, the trade body that represents the industry, said most customers had no problems with their energy company, but accepted that sometimes things go wrong.