The Customer Care Team of the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), the Irish regulator for energy and water, provides an independent complaints resolution service for customers who have an unresolved dispute with their energy supplier, network operator or Irish Water.
There was a 63% increase in customer contacts received by the Customer Care Team in 2018. The Customer Care Team received 295 complaints, an increase of 15% on the number of complaints received in 2017. The rise in the number of complaints follows the trend already observed by other members of NEON. In the Irish case, price increases in retail markets and the customer awareness campaign launched in 2018 may be two of the main reasons to explain that increase.
The key drivers for complex complaints against energy suppliers in 2018 were billing and account problems (39% and 22% respectively). There was a welcome decrease in billing issues between 2017 and 2018, which might be explained by clearer and more accurate billing by suppliers. The increase in complaints relating to charges and tariffs, is likely to have been partially driven by price increase announcements in 2018.
The report also contains a series of interesting case studies. Two case studies related to complaints that were upheld in the energy sector show how poor customer service and misinformation can sometimes lead to major financial damages for consumers.