Business Utilities

How to make a consumer complaint with a Business Utilities Provider?

If you are a business and have a dispute with a Utility Provider in regards to your electricity, gas, water or communications supply or services and are looking to escalate your complaint The Retail Ombudsman – Utilities Division is here to help you get your dispute resolved.

You may have a problem or dispute with a product or service from your utility provider i.e. a billing dispute, rollover contracts and back billing, unsatisfactory quality of your broadband provisions, faulty telephone equipment or a failed appointment with an engineer. If this is the case, and you have already complained to the utility provider, you can use our ‘Business Utilities’ complaint form to get your complaint process started.

Before making a business utilities complaint

Please note that to be eligible to make a complaint against a utility provider, you must have already complained to the utility provider directly in writing and either received a final written response (sometimes referred to as a ‘deadlock letter’) or given the utility provider eight (8) weeks to respond to your dispute. The Retail Ombudsman can only deal with unresolved complaints.

Please note if you a have a complaint about a communication service such as landline, broadband or mobile phone and are a small or micro business (with 10 or fewer employees with an annual spend of £5,000 or less) then you would need to discuss your complaint with Ombudsman Services: Communications or CISAS, depending on which company your complaint is regarding.

If you’re a small or micro business (an annual consumption of electricity of not more than 100,000 kWh, or gas consumption of not more than 293,000 kWh; or fewer than 10 employees, and an annual turnover or annual balance sheet total not exceeding €2 million) and you have a complaint with your gas or electricity supplier or the electricity or gas network distributor, you will need to contact Ombudsman Services: Energy.

We can:

  • Direct the utilities provider to take, or desist from taking, certain steps – such as providing a refund or exchange or issuing a formal apology.
  • Direct the utilities provider to pay you a financial award by way of compensation (up to £25,000) for proven financial loss – where appropriate and applicable.

If the utilities provider is a member of The Retail Ombudsman, they will be contractually obligated to implement our decision. However, if the utilities provider is not a member it will be within their discretion, although in most circumstances we would expect non-member utilities providers to reconsider their position.

There are two ways to bring your complaint to The Retail Ombudsman;

1. By post – if you do not have access to the Internet you can telephone 0203 540 8063 and ask one of our team members to post a complaint form to you. Send your completed form to: The Retail Ombudsman, 12 Walker Avenue, Stratford Office Village, Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes MK12 5TW

2. Online – if you have access to the Internet you can file your complaint via our online portal. To access this simply go to the home page of the website and click on ‘File your complaint‘. As soon as you have filed your complaint you will be taken to your own personal portal page. This page provides you with live information about your claim so that you can check the progress at any time of day.

Note: Upon submission of your complaint one of our complaint handlers will firstly determine whether your complaint falls within The Retail Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. If it does not we will not be able to deal with your complaint and we will notify you in writing, by no later than 21 days, of the reasons why.

Once accepted, your complaint will go through a 5-step procedure as shown below. You will be kept up-to-date with the progress of your complaint either via your personal online portal (if you have Internet access) or via post.

Once we have all of the relevant information and supporting documentation from yourself and the retailer/trader (which we call a ‘complete complaint file’), your complaint handler will initially attempt to make a recommendation to resolve the dispute informally. If this proves unsuccessful we will issue a final determination. If you are not happy with the final determination you will be free to take your complaint to court.

We aim to process all complaints within 60 days from when we receive a complete complaint file.

Consumers are not bound by our recommendations or determination unless you agree to be bound. If you do not agree to be bound and you are unhappy with the outcome, you can still take your complaint elsewhere (such as to court).

It’s vitally important that you complete the complaint form as thoroughly as possible. We need to know precisely what your complaint is and how it has arisen.

We base our determinations on the information and evidence provided to us. Where we have to decide on a matter of fact we do so on the balance of probabilities (that is which version of events is more likely to be accurate).

We, therefore, advise that both consumers and retailers provide as much supporting evidence as possible, such as:

  • receipts
  • photographs
  • etc…

Which complaints does the Business Utilities sector cover?

The Business Utilities sector covers business complaints against any utility provider for electricity, gas, water and communications supply or services. Below is a list of popular sources of complaints which The Retail Ombudsman handles within the Business Utilities sector:

  • Gas bills
  • Electricity bills
  • Water bills
  • Rollover contracts
  • Back billing
  • Telephone & broadband bills
  • Mobile phone bills
  • Contract disputes
  • Gas works
  • Electrical works
  • Plumbing works
  • Drainage works
  • Heat Network Operator or ESCo (Energy Services Companies)
  • Combined heat and power
  • Renewable services
  • Half hourly tariffs for medium and large businesses
  • Energy procurement services
  • Energy efficiency services
  • Energy infrastructure
  • Offshore services