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Jul 15, 2013 - Complaints to Ombudsman Services: Energy – Ofgem Report. 1. 1 Executive Summary ..... 6 http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/01/energy-firms-could-owe-millions-in-compensation-276174/ ..... Solar panels. Something else.
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COMPLAINTS TO OMBUDSMAN SERVICES: ENERGY Report for Ofgem exploring why few consumers refer their complaint to Ombudsman Services: Energy

Contacts GfK:

Ofgem:

Polly Hollings, Natalie Cass, David Rodgers, GfK NOP [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] If you would like to enquire about using any element of this report, or you would like further information about the research then please contact Ofgem’s Consumer Insight Team: [email protected]

Table of Contents 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 3 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 4 4.1 4.2 5 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 6 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 7 8 8.1 8.2 8.3

Executive Summary ....................................................................................... 1 Background and objective 1 Method and sample 1 Complaint background 2 Escalating complaints 2 Motivations and barriers to escalating a complaint to OS:E 3 Recommendations for making it easier for consumers to escalate their complaint to OS:E 5 Introduction .................................................................................................... 6 OS:E 6 Informing customers about OS:E 7 Customers’ use of OS:E 8 Research objectives 9 Methodology and sample 9 Profile of complainants and their complaints ............................................ 17 Who made the complaint – Domestic customers 17 Who made the complaint – Micro-business customers 23 What the complaint was about – Domestic and Micro-Businesses 24 Whether complaints had been resolved 26 Impact of complaint resolution on customer switching 27 Escalating complaints ................................................................................. 29 Previous experience of escalation and confidence in making a complaint 29 Experiences of escalation 31 Motivations and barriers to escalating a complaint .................................. 34 Awareness of OS:E and understanding of its role 35 Expectation that supplier will resolve complaint 39 Confidence in O:SE to offer a fair, effective and hassle-free service 42 Complainant mind-set and capacity to act 47 Reactions to the 8-week and Deadlock letters within the context of the complaint experience 55 Recommendations for making it easier for consumers to escalate their complaint to OS:E ................................................................ 74 Increase awareness and profile of OS:E 74 Improve the 8-week and Deadlock letters 75 Clarify what the customer has to do if they want to escalate their complaint to OS:E 79 Improve how information about OS:E is communicated to customers 80 Conclusion .................................................................................................... 84 Appendix ....................................................................................................... 86 Quantitative questionnaire 86 Qualitative discussion guide 100 Feedback from suppliers 107

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Executive Summary

1.1 Background and objective Ombudsman Services: Energy (OS:E) provides independent dispute resolution for customers with outstanding complaints with an energy company. Energy companies are required to inform customers of their right to refer their complaint to OS:E if the complaint has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the customer after 8-weeks or if the energy company becomes aware that they are unable to resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction (known as Deadlock). The primary aim of this research study was to provide insight into why so few customers who receive an 8-week or Deadlock letter from their energy supplier escalate their complaint to OS:E.

1.2 Method and sample A multi-method approach was used to meet the research objectives, including: 

Supplier interviews: scoping interviews with individuals responsible for, or with good understanding of, 8-week and Deadlock letters at each of the six largest energy supply companies.



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