The French national energy ombudsman, Jean Gaubert, has presented the institutions’ Annual Report 2017, showing a 19% increase in the number of complaints received compared to 2016. The Ombudsman points at the rise of unfair commercial practices, regular and persisting invoicing problems and the lack of transparent information as the main reasons explaining this tendency.
In 2017, the French Energy Ombudsman received over 15000 complaints. As in previous years, the main reason triggering customer complaints was a disagreement on the billed consumption (52 % of the total), followed by complaints related to the billing process and the payment of the bill (23 %). The efficiency of the Ombudsman is once again proven by the high customer satisfaction rate: 92% of the customers having used the services of the Ombudsman would recommend them to others.
Among the main issues raised by the activity of the Ombudsman in 2017 is the topic of unfair commercial practices, which is also an increasing problem observed by the Belgian Federal Energy Ombudsman. The institution is working closely together with the French competent authorities in order to address this problem (the French Ombudsman can only intervene once a contract has been signed and thus not in complaints arising out of commercial practices).
The Ombudsman also underlines the need to increase the communication towards customers in the light of the foreseen end of the regulated tariffs for gas. Today, half of French consumers still don’t know that they can change supplier. In order to protect consumers, the Ombudsman calls upon French authorities to set up a supplier of last resort and to determine a “reference price” for gas to better help consumers appraise the value of different offers.
Read the Press Release (in French)
Download the Annual Report (in French)