Image Complaints to CRU rise significantly
Image Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

As the price of gas and electricity has soared, so too have complaints to energy suppliers.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has released its latest Customer Care Team report, which is invaluable when it comes to assessing the quality of energy providers' customer service.

Reliable customer service is an important function of any good business and it's one thing that’s very important to us here at bonkers.ie!

In this article we’ll take a look at the CRU's most recent report on customer service for Q1 2022, which may be of particular interest to those switching providers soon, especially as prices have never been higher.

But first, what is the CRU's Customer Care Team?

CRU Customer Care Team 

The CRU Customer Care Team (CCT) provides a range of services to energy and water customers.

Its two primary services are: 

  • The provision of a free dispute resolution service to customers with an unresolved complaint against an energy supplier, network operator or Irish Water; and

  • The provision of information to customers about energy or water services, including information on customers' rights and obligations.

Its goals include ensuring that there is a high standard of protection for customers in their dealings with energy companies and Irish Water, and reviewing the number and type of complaints received from customers and making recommendations, where appropriate. 

Increase in customer contacts

The CRU has had a busy quarter. 

In the first three months of the year the CCT received 2,208 calls, 4,085 emails, 269 web queries, and 74 letters.

This resulted in 2,800 customer 'contacts' or cases being opened by the CRU, which is a whopping 52% increase on the numbers of cases recorded in Q4 2021 and a 78% increase compared to the same quarter in 2021.

Here are the number of cases open against each of the main suppliers in Q1. 

Bord Gais Energy, with a combined market share of 21%, accounted for 34% of energy supplier 'contacts' or cases with the CRU, while Electric Ireland’s contact levels at 29% was far lower than its market share of 43%.

Also doing reasonable well is Energia and SSE whose percentage number of cases with the CRU is below their market share.

Supplier

No. Cases

Market Share

% of cases

BGE

672

21%

34%

Electric Ireland

581

43%

29%

Energia

185

12%

9%

SSE

152

10%

8%

Flogas

107

2%

5%

Prepaypower

90

7%

5%

Panda 

79

2%

4%

Pinergy 

27

1%

1%

The CRU also highlighted some other key trends from the first quarter which it believe led to a surge in contacts and complaints:

  1. The energy industry, like many others, has been beset with customers service issues and many customers contacted the CRU about difficulty contacting their energy supplier and long waiting times. 

  2. Bright Energy exited the market in January and customers contacted the CRU seeking information on the next steps or querying if they would receive refunds on their accounts.   

  3. In March, the Government approved the payment of the €200 energy credit.

  4. Early in the year the Government announced plans to start paying households for any surplus renewable energy they export to the grid. However details on the mechanics of the scheme and pricing were patchy at best to begin with.  

  5. There was an increase in queries regarding district heating, as some households faced skyrocketing costs for their energy.

Account problems and billing issues continue to account for the largest percentage of issues brought to the CCT by energy customers, unsurprising given the on-going energy crisis. Of the billing issues reported; high bills, changes in tariffs, incorrect bills and problems caused by estimated readings were among the main problems outlined by customers.

Issue

Percentage

Account problems

16%

Billing - general

12%

Customer service issues

7%

Billing - high bills

7%

Cannot get through to supplier

6%

Estimated readings

3%

Marketing and sign up 

3%

Complaints

As you can imagine, the CCT is inundated with queries, issues, and complaints from consumers day in and day out. This has been especially true over the past few months as energy prices have begun to soar.

However, the CCT only fully investigates what are called ‘complex complaints’ - those where a customer has already exhausted their respective energy suppliers’ complaints handling process.

In Q1, the CCT opened a total of 83 complaint investigations, which represents a 28% increase in the number of complaints opened in Q4 2021 (60) and a 28% increase in the number of complaints opened in Q1 2021 (60).

Of the 83 complaints opened this quarter, 90% were energy related and 10% related to Irish Water.

Here are the number of complaints opened against each of the main suppliers. Both Flogas and Panda Power had complaint levels significantly higher than their market share, while Electric Ireland, SSE and Energia’s complaint levels were lower than their market share. 

Supplier

No. Complaints

Flogas

13

BGE

12

Panda

11

EIectric Ireland

9

SSE

4

Energia

3

Pinergy 

3

Prepaypower

0

Prevailing high energy prices have presented new challenges for customers, energy suppliers and the CRU alike. This, and other changes in the energy and water sector have led to an increase in volume in customers contacting the CRU for information and for assistance. In order to protect the customer interest in the energy and water sectors the CCT will continue to liaise with internal departments within the CRU, as well as external stakeholders, regarding ongoing trends, customer issues and continue to communicate areas of customer concern, particularly in relation to those who are vulnerable.

The CRU

How can I contact the CRU?

If you've an issue with your supplier you can contact the CRU by:

Phone Line - 1800 404 404  

Email- customercare@cru.ie

Web - via www.cru.ie 

Switch and save on your bills

If you’re not happy with your customer service, and if you haven’t switched supplier in some time, you’ll be glad to know the process has never been easier.

By using our energy price comparison tool you can find the best deal for you in seconds and be signed up within a number of minutes, provided you have all the right information to hand.

What’s more, the average energy customer who switches today could save over €700 on their bills!

However, before making the switch, you might find it beneficial to take a look at some of the following:

Run a quick comparison right now across electricitygas, or dual fuel and see how much you could save with bonkers.ie!

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