None of us like paying energy bills, but I think we understand that there has to be a cost to keeping the lights on, the water hot and the smartphone charged.
But when payment time comes, we at least expect our bills to be accurate, our accounts to be up to date and our suppliers to be, well, nice. Not too much to ask, right?
Well, the Commission for Energy Regulation has released a new report which shows how energy and water suppliers are doing when it comes to the delicate art of customer care. So, how did your supplier do?
Let’s start with the good news. The number of customer care complaints to the CER has fallen by 13% between 2015 and 2016. Fewer complaints means happier customers. And that’s music to our ears here at bonkers.ie.
However, there were still a whopping 3,392 complaints made about energy and water suppliers last year. And considering the fact that most of us here in Ireland don’t like to cause a fuss, we can assume that the number of unhappy customers was probably a good bit higher than this.
The most common complaints related to, you guessed it; bills! More specifically, inaccurate bills, problems with budget plans and large catch-up charges in cases of estimated readings.
Account issues, such as incorrect details on bills, were also high on the complaints list.
In its report, the CER outlines how each supplier’s number of complaints corresponds to their market share to give an accurate view of customer care performance.
The stats represent the combined energy market share of suppliers across domestic and non-domestic sectors and counts the number of ‘complex’ complaints received by the CER. These complaints are ones which required an investigation to resolve.
At the end of 2016, Electric Ireland had a combined energy market share of 50%, but only made up 38% of total complaints made to the CER.
Bord Gáis Energy had a market share of 23%, but made up 35% of complaints. This represents a big improvement for the supplier, which made up 43% of complaints the year before.
So, the two biggest suppliers seem to be moving in the right direction when it comes to customer care.
SSE Airtricity also improved its customer care rate in 2016. It has a market share of 15% but only made up 9% of complaints. The supplier also snapped up the Best Customer Service and Best Online Customer Support Teams awards at the bonkers.ie awards earlier this year.
Energia and PrePayPower are breaking even when it comes to customer care - the former has a 6% market share and complaints share, and the latter has a 4% market share and complaints share.
If you have a complaint about your water or energy supplier, you should make it known.
The CER set up a dedicated Customer Care Team in 2006 to independently resolve issues and is keen to increase awareness of the service.
Here at bonkers.ie, we would also strongly encourage you to make use of the CER’s service if you’re unhappy with any aspect of your relationship with your gas or electricity supplier. The market is highly competitive and nobody should settle for subpar service or over-the-top prices these days.
Price is the driving factor behind choosing a gas and electricity supplier, but customer care reputation should always be considered too. Low bills aren’t much good if you’re constantly having to query certain charges or ring up your supplier to have a something changed on your account.
There are eight domestic energy suppliers out there at the moment and, with that level of choice, you should always expect low prices and high quality customer care.
And if your supplier is letting you down on either of these fronts, you should consider grabbing your MPRN, your GPRN and a recent meter reading and taking five minutes to switch.
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