22nd August 2014
The energy regulator has ordered EDF Energy to pay £3 million to help ‘vulnerable customers’ after an investigation found the company was not handling complaints properly.
The ruling means all of the big six energy firms have had to make payments for failings in the way complaints are handled. EDF’s complaints procedure was investigated by Ofgem following a 30 rise in complaints after the introduction of a new IT system in 2011.
Ofgem found the company did not have the ability to properly receive, record and process customer complaints in accordance with its rules between May 2011 and January 2012. Technical problems meant customers experienced unacceptably high call waiting times and when people did get through there was evidence of complaints where the supplier had failed to record all the required details, including the date of receipt, a summary of the complaint and the action taken meaning it was difficult to track the progress of grievances.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem senior partner with responsibility for enforcement said EDF Energy and the rest of the energy sector, needed to ‘put customers first’.
‘EDF Energy failed to have sufficiently robust processes in place when they introduced a new IT system and this led to the unacceptable handling of complaints,’ she said.
The £3 million payment will be given to Citizens Advice Bureau’s ‘Energy Best Deal Extra’ scheme and Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau’s Debt Helpline to benefit ‘vulnerable customers’.
Harrison said the payment to CAB was ‘a step in the right direction to rebuilding consumer trust’.
‘It is now vital EDF Energy and the industry as a whole to truly put customers first and put adequate resources in place to deal with complaints,’ she said. ‘Following our reforms, it has never been easier for consumers to switch supplier and therefore those unhappy with the service they receive are able to vote with their feet.’