It is difficult not to feel sorry for Brazilian football fans following their team’s ignominious exit from the World Cup. Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool FC manager famously said,
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
While the competitiveness of your favourite football team may not be truly life threatening the performance of your energy supplier could well be. This makes the publication of Citizens Advice’s energy supplier complaints league important for all of us. The league table shows npower firmly at rock bottom in sixth place, with Scottish Power above in fifth. Both suppliers have introduced new billing systems which have prompted a rise in complaints. Npower complaints rose from 306.8 for every 100,000 customers to 592, in the last quarter of 2013.
Complaints per 100,000 customers in Jan-March 2014
1 SSE 34.1
2 British Gas 75.4
3 E.ON 83.6
4 EDF 84.5
5 Scottish Power 197.7
6 npower 592.4
Following the publication of this information by Citizens Advice, the energy regulator, Ofgem has launched an investigation into npower’s billing problems. Npower has also committed to writing off outstanding payments for vulnerable customers (those who receive Warm Home Discount) who have not had a bill for six months
The knock-on effect of poor billing systems can be devastating for households struggling to make ends meet. Many people do not have the spare cash to cover the cost of a large bill that suddenly lands on their doorstep following a delay.
Here are some tips on how to deal with energy suppliers
- Complain to your energy supplier as soon as you experience a problem.
- If you have not received a bill but are expecting one, try to put money aside so you are able to pay when you do eventually get the bill.
- Energy companies are only allowed to back bill for energy you used in the last 12 months, anything older than that should be written-off where the supplier is at fault.
- Ask for some sort of compensation for the time you spent on trying to sort out problems and the financial impact of late billing for example reduce the balance of the bill and cover the cost of phone calls.
- Npower customers who have received a late bill can contact the supplier on 0800 9759065
- Scottish Power has increased the opening hours of its call centre to 10pm to help deal with customer queries.
- Suppliers must take into account ability to pay when setting debt repayment levels.
- You can get advice from the Citizens Advice energy consumer line on 03454 04 05 06. You can also take your complaint to the energy ombudsman by calling 0330 440 1624.