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Fewer consumers complained to the CER in 2016

Of the complex complaints that were received, most related to billing.

The Commission for Energy Regulation’s Customer Care Team Annual Report for 2016 came out last week, and it made for an interesting read.

Complaints about energy suppliers are down

The report shows that there was an overall decrease in the number of contacts and complex complaints from energy customers in 2016.

This follows decreases in 2014 and 2015, and the CER has said that it could indicate that suppliers and network operators are getting better at sticking to the rules outlined in the CER’s supplier and customer handbooks.

If so, this is good news, as these rules are designed to protect consumers and ensure they’re treated fairly by suppliers, from sign-up to when they close their contract.

In terms of the actual numbers, the CCT closed 3,486 complaints in 2016, down 12% from a total of 3,942 in 2015.

The number of complex complaints is also down, with 278 complex complaints logged by the CCT in 2016.

Billing is still the most common cause for complaint

Switcher.ie has previously highlighted that Irish consumers are bamboozled by their bills, so it’s no surprise to see that 64% of complaints about electricity suppliers, and 72% of complaints about gas suppliers related to billiing issues.

This includes inaccurate billing, high bills, disputed bills, disconnection, and large catch-up bills due to estimated meter readings. A further 20% of complaints against electricity suppliers related to account issues, like incorrect account details and contract terms. The CER has noted that the affordability of energy continues to be a driver of customer complaints.

Check your bills and submit regular meter readings

Over-complicated bills could be a barrier in preventing consumers from engaging in the utility market, so seeing high levels of complaints in this area is concerning.

It’s also worrying to see that many people were hit with a really high bill after a period of estimated bills.

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t check your bills at all, now is the time to do so. Getting a handle on your energy bills will put you in a stronger position to engage in the market, and allow you to understand your usage, and cut back where needed.

When you check your bills, if you see an ‘E’ beside the meter reading, this represents an estimated reading, which means your bill was not based on your actual usage.

If you do receive an estimated bill, submit a meter reading straightaway to ensure you’re charged for your actual electricity or gas use.

Switch energy and save

Checking your bills regularly will also allow you to see when any introductory discounts have ended. As soon as this is the case, you’re free to shop around for a better deal - doing this could save you up to €402.

Switching only takes a few minutes with Switcher.ie’s gas and electricity comparison tool, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to have a look for a better deal

If you are one of the 15% who have switched in the last year, don’t despair, there are plenty of energy-saving measures you can take to cut back on your bills even more.

Compare energy deals now

Where can I complain to about my gas or electricity supplier?

If you have a problem with your supplier, the first thing to do is to complain directly to them. They should be able to resolve this but, if you’re not satisfied, the CCT can be contacted by email on customercare@cer.ie, telephone on 1890 404 404, or by letter at The Customer Care Team, P.O. Box 11934, Dublin 24.