Q4 2011

Complaints reporting from 2011 fourth quarter (October - December).

The number of complaints we get

The numbers


What do the numbers mean?

We have over 7.5 million electricity and gas customer accounts. In the fourth quarter of 2011, we had 3,729 complaints per 100,000 residential customers.

Generally, the number of residential complaints has stayed about the same over the last year. But they went up in the last few months of 2011. This is because we had to put up customers’ Direct Debits after we increased our prices in September 2011 and many customers didn’t understand why their Direct Debits needed to increase by the amount we’d suggested. 

Given the number of complaints that we received on this subject, we’re looking at how we explain why Direct Debits need to change. 

The total number of complaints we receive is a high number and we are trying to reduce it. We have to class any ‘expression of dissatisfaction’ as a complaint. This includes a lot of things that we sort out straight away - 94% of all residential complaints - but customers shouldn’t ever be dissatisfied with us, so we have to make this total number lower. 

We also need to make sure that when we think a complaint is resolved, the customer thinks so too. Last year, just over 6% of our complaints were repeat complaints.

We aim to solve complaints first time, but if you still have a problem and have to contact us again because we haven’t solved it yet, then that shouldn’t be classed as a new complaint. We have to make sure we get this right and we are putting new controls in place.

Total complaints to E.ON in 2011 were 283,035

Complaints we didn't settle before the end of the next working day

The numbers


What do the numbers mean?

We’ve cut the percentage of complaints still unresolved by the end of the next working day over the last 12 months. 

This is because a lot of them were to do with the Direct Debit changes we talked about above, which we could deal with quickly.

However we want to get this number lower because, in some cases, we just didn’t handle the complaint properly in the first place. We’ve got plans in place to sort this out.

Complaints resolved the next working day were 16,337

Complaints we didn't settle within 8 weeks.

The numbers


What do the numbers mean?

It can sometimes take us a while to resolve more complicated complaints (e.g., if we need to work with other suppliers or have to get extra information from our customers). But we’re looking at how we can handle our customer complaints faster.

If they wish, customers can take their complaint to the Ombudsman after eight weeks have passed.

Complaints where we've had to send out a deadlock letter.

The numbers


What do the numbers mean?

‘Deadlock’ means we’ve investigated a complaint as much as we can. We’ve offered a solution that we believe is right but the customer hasn’t accepted it. At this point a customer can take their complaint to the independent Ombudsman for energy consumers.

Complaints that have gone to the Energy Ombudsman

The numbers


What do the numbers mean?

This happens when we’ve reached ‘deadlock’ (see above). A customer can also go to the Ombudsman if they’ve been waiting for eight weeks and we still haven’t settled their complaint. 

The Ombudsman will look at the case and make an independent decision.

Outcome of the complaints reviewed by the Energy Ombudsman

The numbers

For all complaints that went to the Ombudsman, (both residential and SME) the Ombudsman found that we had handled the complaint properly and provided the right response in 35% of cases.

The Ombudsman thought we needed to do more for the customer in 65% of cases.

In some of the cases where the Ombudsman wanted us to do more, they were happy with our general approach but thought we needed to offer more compensation or a different resolution. 

That’s still not good enough though. We want to work with the Ombudsman to make sure that we offer the right thing in the first place and so we still see these as examples of where we need to do better.

What was the biggest problem in the fourth quarter of 2011?

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the biggest cause of complaints from our residential customers was the Direct Debit increases we had to make. Because of this, we’ve reviewed our Direct Debit process and, based on what you’ve told us, improved it. And we’re going to carry on looking at this area as part of our Reset review of our relationship with our customers to make sure we do more than just avoid complaints.