E.ON is one of the UK’s energy firms that have had a bit of rough history with the industry regulator Ofgem. After a couple of unfortunate incidents, energy companies would usually make efforts to avoid further run-ins with the industry watchdog.
However, E.ON continues to find itself on the wrong side of things with Ofgem even after a decade of trading in the market.
An Ofgem investigation concerning E.ON from 2011-2013 revealed that the energy firm had failed to meet reporting obligations as laid down by the CERT or Carbon Emissions Reduction Target programme. It was discovered that the firm’s report regarding the distribution of about 3.4 million light bulbs was grossly inaccurate.
The company was hit with a fine of £500,000 on top of the £2.5 million that it had to pay in consumer redress. This amount was given to customers that satisfied the criteria for payments under the Warm Home Discount Broader Group.
Energy suppliers have to compensate their consumers if the supplier’s representative misses their appointments. In 2014, E.ON, one of the Big Six suppliers, approached Ofgem reporting that it had missed appointments and compensating customers for them. At that time, the supplier had to pay £20 to £22, depending on whether the appointment was for gas or electricity. If the amount were not paid in ten days, then it would be liable to pay double at £40 to £44.
Ofgem, later on, discovered that the supplier had missed a total of 35,000 appointments. E.ON was only able to trace around 24,000 of those and pay them the owed £1.2 million in total. The rest could not be traced and provided what was owed.
As a result, the company was asked to pay an additional £1.9 million for people in need. This amount included service personnel via the ‘Help for Heroes’ scheme under the National Energy Action.
As per license conditions laid down by Ofgem, suppliers are barred from charging any exit fees from consumers who switch to a different energy supplier during the last 49 days of their existing contract. This period is also known as the switching window.
Ofgem found that from October 2013 to February 2017, call centre advisors at E.ON told 450 customers that they would have to pay an exit fee for changing providers during the switching window. E.ON later modified its call centre scripts and also paid redress of £21,000 to customers who either cancelled or delayed switching providers.
The industry regulator confirmed that no customer had been wrongly charged due to the misinformation. Ofgem closed the compliance case without seeking further legal enforcement action. It took into account the fact that E.ON took steps to improve its performance and compensate the fraction of customers affected by the misinformation.
This incident was disclosed by MoneySavingExpert.com, a consumer affairs website, to Ofgem in 2017.
Over the years, E.ON has been embroiled in controversies, paying millions in fines for repeated breaches of Ofgem’s regulations. On top of that, E.ON has also been under duress for failure to provide adequate customer service. Over 57% of the customers in the UK reported that they were unsatisfied with the level of attention provided by the firm for issues they have raised directly.
E.ON is among the seven companies that were included in the customer complaints survey. The majority of the consumers who participated in the survey were serviced by the Big Six energy firms.
Ofgem had asked the firm to address customer complaints and provide updates on their issues. Another concern that was highlighted was the lack of information provided by energy firms about third-party solutions and alternative routes for redressing issues, such as through the Energy Ombudsman.
Any customer that had issues with their energy supplier and did not receive resolution within eight weeks of raising it has been directed to escalate their concern to the Energy Ombudsman, which is free of charge.
With E.ON’s run-ins with Ofgem and poor customer service complaints for the past ten years, customers must be informed of alternate or escalation routes available to them.