Extra Energy's customer service and billing process to be investigated
Extra Energy is to be scrutinised by energy regulator Ofgem, amid concerns it hasn’t treated customers fairly.
An investigation is being launched following Ofgem’s monitoring of the market and information provided to it by the Citizens Advice Service and the Ombudsman Services regarding Extra Energy's billing, customer service and complaints handling processes.
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Citizens Advice raised concerns with Ofgem in March following the high level of complaints it received about the energy provider, particularly around billing.
In June, the challenger provider came bottom of the charity’s energy league table receiving 1,682 complaints per 100,000 customers between January and March 2016. This is the highest complaints ratio ever recorded over the course of the league table’s five year history.
The Ombudsman Services meanwhile, flagged its own findings to the regulator in April relating to Extra Energy’s inability to action complaints resolutions within its required 28-day timescale.
Ofgem’s investigation will now examine whether Extra Energy has breached rules surrounding:
- Providing bills based on meter readings
- Refunding credit and issuing late final bills
- Sending customers annual summaries
- Blocking customers from switching
However, the regulator stresses that the opening of this investigation does not imply Extra Energy has broken any rules.
Extra Energy admits it has experienced issues relating to its customer services not keeping pace with its growth, and with adapting its systems from the German market where it launched, to the UK. It says it has presented a plan to Ofgem detailing how it will fix the issues problems within the next three months.
How to complain
If you’ve got a gripe with your energy provider, you first need to complain directly to it. You can do this via complaints resolution tool, Resolver.co.uk, if your provider is listed on its site.
If you don’t get a response within eight weeks, you’re unhappy with the response you do get, or you’re sent a deadlock letter, you can take your gripe to the free Ombudsman Services to look into.
It can force companies to apologise, explain what went wrong, take action to correct problems, and issue payments of up to £10,000.
What Extra Energy says
Ben Jones, managing director of operations at Extra Energy, adds: "We’ve brought a business that has been successful in Germany to the UK market. However, in some areas it has taken us longer than we expected to adapt our systems and processes to some of the more specific nuances of the UK market.
"It’s true that a number of our customers have had problems with their service as a result. We apologise unreservedly to every single one of these customers. It simply isn’t good enough and we are investing heavily to ensure these processes work for every single customer."
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.