How to claim compensation for incorrect gas and electricity bills
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Claiming compensation on your gas and electricity bills
In a bid to reduce people’s dissatisfaction with electricity and gas suppliers, Ofgem has introduced a number of domestic energy market reforms in recent years.
As a result of these reforms, households should now find it easier to compare tariffs from different suppliers using price comparison sites, as well as have a better understanding of their energy bills and be more confident in the transparency of their energy suppliers.
Among the reforms is the ability to claim compensation if your energy supplier or distributor delivers a less than satisfactory service. The following is a list of the common circumstances in which you might be able to claim compensation:
Your complaint was not resolved in time
If you have a reason to complain about your energy supply or bill, your complaint must first be directed at your electricity or gas supplier. You could claim compensation for issues such as:
- Mistakes on bills.
- Inaccurate meter readings.
- Missing bills.
- Backdated bills – your supplier cannot backdate charges beyond one year.
- Your switch took too long – it shouldn't take longer than three weeks.
All suppliers have a written complaints procedure that they should follow in the event of customer complaints. When contacting your supplier make it clear that you are calling or writing to make a complaint.
Your supplier should give you a time frame within which they expect to resolve your complaint. The Big Six suppliers – British Gas, Scottish Power, E.On, Npower, SSE and EDF Energy – are required to resolve issues within eight weeks while the smaller suppliers are given twelve weeks.
If your supplier takes longer than stated, you can then escalate your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman who will look into your case and may award you compensation.
You have been mis-sold electricity or gas
If you feel you have been coerced or deceived into signing up to an energy tariff – whether by a doorstep salesperson or a telesales agent – you may be able to claim compensation. You could also be entitled to £250 compensation if you are switched to a supplier without your permission.
Your first step should be to contact your energy supplier who should be able to reverse any change in your account and refund any payments you have made due to mis-selling. If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact the Energy Ombudsman who will look into your case and may award you compensation.
Your energy supply was interrupted without notice or for a lengthy period
You may be able to claim compensation from energy network companies if you were inconvenienced due to your energy supply being interrupted without advance notice, or if the power outage lasted more than a certain number of hours. To help make a claim for compensation due to your power supply being cut off, make a note of the time and date of the disruption and how long it lasted.
Typically, compensation for large-scale power cuts caused by severe weather is only awarded if the power outage lasts 24-48 hours. In this case, customers are entitled to £27 for the first 48 hours, and then a further £27 for each additional 12 hours, up to a maximum of £216. Network companies may choose to increase this amount at their discretion, and may provide special compensation if you’re without power over Christmas. You may also be entitled to compensation if the power outage lasted longer than 18-24 hours in normal weather due to a fault by the distributor.
Your supplier missed a scheduled appointment
If your supplier needs to work on your electricity or gas supply for whatever reason, they will give you the choice of a morning or afternoon visit, and typically specify a two-hour window for the visit. If your supplier misses the appointment without letting you know, and due to events out of their control, you are usually given a pre-defined amount of money as compensation – £20 for gas and £22 for electricity, or £42 for both. Your supplier will double the amount if they are unable to pay you within ten days.
You have a complaint about your electricity or gas network operator
You can also claim compensation if you are inconvenienced due to an electricity or gas network operator. This is the company that operates the pipes and cables that transport energy to your property. Some of the instances in which you could claim compensation include:
Electricity network operator
- They take too long to replace your mains fuse.
- They take too long to restore your electricity after a power cut or shortage.
- They shut off your power for planned maintenance without at least two days’ advance notice.
- They miss an appointment to inspect your supply voltage.
- You get four or more separate power cuts in a year.
- They take too long to give you an estimate for a new connection.
- Your quote is not accurate.
- Your compensation payment is late.
Gas network operator
- They are late quoting you for a gas connection, or replying to a query.
- Your quote is not accurate.
- They take longer than 20 working days to tell you when they can connect your gas.
- They turn off your gas supply for planned maintenance without at least five days’ advance notice.
- They take longer than 24 hours to reconnect your gas after an unexpected disconnection.
- You are left without a gas supply for more than five working days.
- They take too long to respond to a complaint. Your compensation payment is late.
If you experience a power cut or your gas supply stops and you are on the Priority Services Register due to being a vulnerable customer, your supplier should help arrange an alternative supply while repair or maintenance work is carried out.
How to claim compensation from your network operators
You’ll need to write to your regional electricity network operator or your regional gas network operator in order to claim compensation for a power outage. You should do this within three months of your supply being restored for electricity and within 28 working days for gas.
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