Energy Crisis Triggers Record Complaints Against Suppliers

by Victor Adetimilehin

A surge in consumer disputes over gas and electricity bills has been reported by the Energy Ombudsman, a watchdog that handles complaints about energy companies in the UK.

The Ombudsman said it received 36,823 complaints between April and June this year, the highest figure for a quarter on record. The most common issues were related to gas or electricity use, account balances and meter readings.

The Ombudsman said the rise in complaints may be linked to the start of the energy crisis in 2022, which has led to soaring prices, supply shortages and the collapse of several energy firms. The cost-of-living crisis has also increased the pressure on consumers, who want to ensure they are being treated fairly by their suppliers.

Some customers have shared their stories of frustration and stress caused by billing errors, smart meter problems and debt collection threats. One customer said he was being chased by bailiffs for a debt he did not owe, while another said she received a monthly bill of nearly £2,000 due to a faulty smart meter.

The Ombudsman said it can only intervene in a complaint if the supplier has not resolved the issue after eight weeks or has said it is not fixable. It urged consumers who are not satisfied with their supplier’s response to bring their dispute to the Ombudsman, which can investigate and award compensation if appropriate.

The Ombudsman also suggested some ways to regulate the energy sector, such as creating ethical standards, ensuring transparency and accountability, and fostering public awareness and education. It said it was ready to support consumers as winter approaches and the energy situation remains uncertain.

The Ombudsman’s report comes amid growing concerns about the impact of the energy crisis on households, businesses and the environment. The UK government has announced several measures to help consumers and suppliers cope with the crisis, such as providing emergency loans, extending the price cap and increasing the warm home discount.

However, some experts and campaigners have warned that these measures are not enough to address the root causes of the crisis, such as the reliance on fossil fuels, the lack of investment in renewable energy and the need for energy efficiency. They have called for a green and fair transition to a low-carbon economy that benefits everyone.

Source: [BBC News]

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