Response to Ofgem’s proposed new tests and checks for energy suppliers

Ombudsman Services | Oct 22, 2019

Ofgem has today (22 October) announced that it is proposing new reforms for existing energy suppliers to drive up customer service standards, reduce the risk of supplier failure and strengthen the safety net.

Matthew Vickers, chief executive at Ombudsman Services, which operates the Energy Ombudsman scheme, welcomed Ofgem’s proposals.

He said: “These reforms are good news for energy consumers and will address some of the market issues around supplier failures.

”We are particularly pleased to see some action in relation to administrators, because in some instances the conduct of these companies when suppliers fail has been poor and has caused problems for both consumers and gaining suppliers.

“The idea of introducing checks as suppliers reach certain growth milestones also makes a lot of sense, because we have seen several examples of huge spikes in complaints about companies that have grown rapidly but haven’t had the customer-service infrastructure in place to support this growth. As part of this we’d like to see Ofgem pay close to attention to which suppliers signpost their customers to us when a complaint can’t be resolved, and which don’t.

“As the ombudsman we’re spending more and more of our time investigating complaints about smaller suppliers. Some of these companies don’t always make their customers aware of their right to escalate a complaint to us, so in some cases what we’re seeing could just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the problems customers are experiencing.

“While we welcome this consultation, another area that we’d like to see Ofgem do more on is protection for consumer complaints that are with us for investigation when a supplier fails or is acquired, because currently people can be left stranded.

“We have raised this with the regulator and we will continue to work together in order to identify a positive solution that benefits consumers.”