Real Estate

Lower energy price means fewer complaints to the ombudsman service

Energy prices fell sharply last year, and as a result fewer customers turn to the Ombudsman Service for Energy out of dissatisfaction with their supplier. Not entirely justified, the service warns.

The fact that there were 6 percent fewer complaints last year is directly related to the price decreases, according to Eric Houtman, Dutch-speaking ombudsman for Energy. ‘Customers will then be less surprised by high energy bills with unchanged consumption, which leads to fewer complaints’.

However, this is not entirely correct. “However, this does not mean that customers should feel comfortable with their energy bill,” Houtman warns. Because energy companies do not pass these price decreases on to all types of contracts. Due to contract extensions, many customers are still tied to prices that can amount to ‘more than double the prices during the corona crisis’.

Nature of complaints changed

The corona pandemic has changed the content of some complaints, explains ombudsman Eric Houtman. In sales practices, door-to-door sales that could not or were not allowed to go through during the lockdown were replaced by sales by telephone or online.

Too few energy suppliers have made efforts to allow their customers to enjoy cheaper prices and tacitly renewed more expensive energy contracts. In the event of payment problems or non-payment, the service found that quite a few energy suppliers turn to a professional debt collection office more quickly.

The questions, complaints and reports mainly concerned sales and market practices of suppliers (20.5 percent), meter problems such as the processing and rectification of meter data during the annual admission or relocation (17.1 percent) and billing problems such as the (late) layout and legibility of the energy bills (13.7 percent).

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