Gas and electricity Updated:
The big six energy companies have been repeatedly under fire over the last few months, most notably over price hikes and on-going political wrangles. Well, it seems that consumers have had enough, with complaints about energy firms having soared to record levels by more than trebling in the first quarter of 2014 when compared to the same period a year ago, according to figures from the Energy Ombudsman.
In total, 10,638 complaints were passed onto the ombudsman between January and April 2014 – a significant increase from the 3,277 complaints recorded during the same period in 2013 and even more concerning when looking at figures from 2012, when complaints for the entire year totalled 11,283.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of these complaints were in relation to billing and poor customer service, with unexpected charges in particular leaving many consumers increasingly dissatisfied. And, this isn't even taking into account the complaints that energy firms themselves have received through their own complaints departments, which would easily see the total jump up.
These new statistics come after it was revealed that the majority of consumers simply don't trust energy companies, particularly in the wake of ever-increasing prices which have left a lot of customers feeling the pinch. However, it's hoped that the recently-announced review into the competition practices and profits of the big six, led by regulator Ofgem and the Competition and Markets Authority, should help to boost competition and balance the market out, ideally leading to better prices in the future.
In the meantime, just what can you do if you're unhappy with your energy firm? If it's a complaint that can be resolved then it should always be taken to the company itself, or if that doesn't fix things then going to the ombudsman should be next on the list.
Then all you've got to do is see if you could get a better deal – and better service – elsewhere. Although there hasn't been much activity in the last few months and the prospect of summer on the horizon means you hopefully won't need to blast out the heating for much longer, you could still make substantial savings on your fuel bill with a bit of shopping around.
Use our comparison tool to find the best tariff for your needs and see how much you could save, and hopefully you won't need to add to the complaints tally…
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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