What is the Energy Ombudsman?
The Ombudsman Services: Energy (the Ombudsman) is an independent body which resolves outstanding domestic energy and small business supply disputes in a fair and consistent manner.
The role of the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman is a free service and can deal with complaints about energy companies that are involved in providing gas and/or electricity to your home or small business (this is a business with no more than10 employees, an annual turnover that does not exceed €2 million or consumes less than 50MWh of electricity a year or less than 200MWh of gas a year.)
All companies involved in providing gas or electricity to domestic or small business consumers must be members of the scheme. The Ombudsman will consider whether the member must take any action to put things right for you and force the company to provide any of the following:
- a service or some practical action that will benefit you
- an apology or explanation
- a financial award (a maximum limit of £5,000 (including VAT) is placed on the award)
Once a decison has been reached the energy supplier has up to 28 days to put in place any remedy that the Ombudsman has called for. The Ombudsman’s decision is binding for the energy company, but not for you. There is no appeals process with the Ombudsman once a final decision has been made. You have up to one month to accept the final decision, but are free to continue your complaint via other methods if you feel the Ombudsman has reached the wrong decision.
When to contact the Ombudsman
If your energy supplier is unable to resolve your complaint they should issue you with a deadlock letter, which will allow you to take your complaint to the Ombudsman.
You can also approach the Ombudsman if your complaint has not been resolved within eight weeks (or 12 weeks for companies that have recently joined the scheme).
What is the deadlock letter?
A deadlock letter may issued if:
- There is no new information to be gained on the complaint from either you or the energy company
- The complaint escalation processes have been followed
- You and the company cannot agree to a resolution within the company’s complaint procedures having more time will not improve this position
You have six months from the date of the letter to pass your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. Consumer Focus has published easy guide on how to make an energy complaint and template leaflets to help make the complaints process easier for you. Access these here or call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 to request a paper copy.
Contact details for the Energy Ombudsman
PO Box 966
Phone: 0330 440 1624
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
Telephone lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.