Energy complaints at highest ever level, says ombudsman

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CUSTOMER complaints about energy companies have soared to their highest ever level, according to the Energy Ombudsman.

During the first half of the year complaints more than doubled from the previous six-month total of 10,598 to an all-time high of 22,671.

The figures show that complaints made to the ombudsman about energy companies also reached a record for a single month, with 4,124 unhappy consumers registering their frustrations in June.

This is an increase of 216 per cent from June last year.

Billing-related issues continue to be the biggest source of pain for consumers, accounting for 84 per cent (19,009) of the complaints made between January and June 2014. Transfer issues were the second largest cause for complaints at 13 per cent (2,988).

Energy watchdog Ofgem last month warned Npower to resolve its billing problems by the end of August or halt all telephone sales to new customers.

Chief Energy Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said: “The spike in complaints is in part a result of the rising cost of living, but also as a result of consumers becoming more aware of their rights and feeling more empowered to act and fight for a fair deal. Addressing these concerns is crucial to restoring consumer confidence in the sector.”

The ombudsman service was founded in 2002.

A Department of Energy 
and Climate Change spokesman said: “It is unacceptable that so many people have needed to complain about their energy suppliers.

“Energy companies need to realise that people will not tolerate poor service and are switching suppliers in unprecedented numbers, particularly to small suppliers whose numbers have nearly trebled since 2010.”

Meanwhile, plans for a £1.2bn undersea electricity cable that will help boost the country’s renewable energy capacity have been given the go-ahead for a link between Caithness and Moray in Scotland.