Complaints to energy watchdog fall slightly to 3,500 in 2016

Cases include incorrect charge of €2,500 by provider as a result of faulty domestic meter

The electricity and gas supply market generated 83 per cent of all the complaints which required a full investigation by the Commission for Energy Regulation in 2016. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The electricity and gas supply market generated 83 per cent of all the complaints which required a full investigation by the Commission for Energy Regulation in 2016. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

 

A domestic gas customer being incorrectly charged €2,500 by their provider as a result of a faulty meter was one of the cases investigated by the energy regulator last year, according to its annual customer care report.

After a complaint was made to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) Gas Networks Ireland waived the total amount and gave the customer a further €100 “as a goodwill gesture” along with an apology, the report says.

All told the CER received nearly 3,500 complaints from energy and water customers in 2016, a slight decrease on the previous year’s figure.

The most common issues raised by customers were account problems, issues with customer billing by suppliers or network operators, meter issues and leak and flow issues for water users.

Settlement offers

Across all of the electricity, gas and water sectors, almost 50 per cent of complaints were either upheld in favour of the customer or the customer accepted a settlement offer.

The electricity and gas supply market generated 83 per cent of all the complaints which required a full investigation.

In 2016, among the energy suppliers with more than 100,000 customers, Electric Ireland held a 50 per cent market share but generated just 38 per cent the complaints.

By comparison, Bord Gáis Energy held a market share of 23 per cent and generated 35 per cent of the complaints. While the figure suggests it attracts significantly more complaints than its size would suggest it actually reflects an improvement on the level of complaints it received the previous year.

SSE Airtricity reduced the level of complaints to 9 per cent with a 15 per cent market share while complaints to Energia increased from 2 per cent in 2015 with a market share of 5 per cent, to 6 per cent in 2016 with a market share of 6 per cent. PrePay Power significantly reduced the level of complex complaints from 12 per cent in 2015 to 4 per cent in 2016 while maintaining a market share of 4 per cent.

A total of 473 Irish Water complaints were received in 2016, down 27 per cent on the 650 received in 2015. This is down significantly from a high of 786 contacts over Irish Water services in 2014, which was attributed to the large number of queries following the public announcement on water charges in that year.

The decline in contacts was largely attributed to the suspension of domestic water charges in the middle of last year.