Ofgem, the UK regulator of the gas and electricity industries, has told energy suppliers in the country that they have a year to take three key steps to improve the way they bill their domestic customers. This arose after Ofgem’s investigation into a ‘super complaint’ by consumer body energywatch.
While Ofgem found no widespread failure of industry billing arrangements, it did find that a relatively small number of customers suffered real harm when companies made billing mistakes. The measures that are designed to protect customers are:
- Suppliers must stop ‘back-billing’ customers beyond two years, if no bill is issued and the supplier is at fault. This will reduce to one year in 2007.
- Energy suppliers must set up an independent body, with the power to award compensation, to resolve disputes quickly.
- Suppliers must review their domestic customers’ contract terms to ensure compliance with customer rights legislation.
The UK energy industry’s billing process manages 47 million customer accounts and delivers 200 million bills a year. Billing complaints represent 0.07 complaints per 1000 customers per month, according to energywatch figures.