EDF Energy to pay £3 million following Ofgem investigation into the company's complaints handling arrangements

Publication date
22nd August 2014
Information type
Policy area
  • EDF Energy failed to handle consumer complaints efficiently between May 2011 and January 2012
  • EDF Energy to make payments of £3m to benefit customers
  • EDF Energy cooperated fully with Ofgem during investigation

EDF Energy is to pay £3m to benefit vulnerable customers after Ofgem’s investigation found that the company breached complaint handling rules.

The investigation was prompted following an increase of over 30% in the levels of complaints recorded by EDF Energy during the mass migration stages of introducing a new IT system in 2011. Ofgem found that between May 2011 and January 2012, EDF Energy did not have appropriate procedures in place to properly receive, record and process all customers’ complaints in accordance with complaints handling rules.

EDF Energy encountered a number of unexpected technical problems that resulted in many customers experiencing unacceptably high call waiting times with many deciding to hang up before getting through to a customer services operator. When customers did get through, there was evidence of complaints where the supplier had failed to record all the required details for the complaints received. This included the date of receipt, a summary of the complaint and action taken, which could have led to difficulties in tracking progress of consumer complaints. At times when the new systems were down, complaints were not logged until sometime after they were actually received.

EDF Energy staff took action quickly to rectify the problems and to mitigate the effects on consumers. The company has acknowledged that their customers were caused significant disruption and have publicly apologised for this. The agreed payment reflects these factors as well as the seriousness of the issues.

Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner with responsibility for enforcement said: “EDF Energy failed to have sufficiently robust processes in place when they introduced a new IT system and this led to the unacceptable handling of complaints. Their commitment to putting things right and paying £3m to the Citizens Advice ‘Energy Best Deal Extra’ scheme and the Plymouth Citizen Advice Bureau’s Debt Helpline to benefit vulnerable customers is a step in the right direction to rebuilding consumer trust.

“It’s now vital for EDF Energy and the industry as a whole to truly put customers first and put adequate resources in place to deal with complaints. Following our reforms, it has never been easier for consumers to switch supplier and therefore those unhappy with the service they receive are able to vote with their feet.”

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Notes to editors

1. The Penalty notice

The penalty notice and further information on this investigation can be found at Investigation into compliance with the Gas and Electricity Consumer Complaints Handling Standards (CHSR) Regulations 2008

2. EDF Energy was in breach of Regulations 4, 5 and 7(a) of the CHSR’s between May 2011 and December 2011. These breaches have been admitted by EDF Energy.

The breaches were as follows:

Regulation 4

These provisions provide that, upon receipt of a consumer complaint, a regulated provider must record in a written electronic format the date the complaint was received, the identity and contact details of the relevant customer making the complaint or on whose behalf the consumer complaint is made, a summary of the complaint, a summary of the advice given or action taken or agreed, whether the complaint has been resolved and if so, the basis upon which it is considered that the complaint has been resolved.

The provisions also provide that, where any subsequent contact is made with a regulated provider in relation to an existing consumer complaint that regulated provider must record the date of the subsequent contact, a summary of that contact and a summary of any advice given or action taken or agreed in response to any points raised in that contact.

Regulation 5

These regulations provide that a regulated provider must keep a written, electronic record of specified matters (set out in 5 (2)) for each consumer complaint which it receives where that consumer complaint has not become resolved by the end of the working day after the day on which the consumer complaint was first received by that regulated provider.

Regulation 7 (1) (a)

This provision requires regulated providers to receive, handle and process consumer complaints in an efficient and timely manner.

3. About Ofgem

Ofgem is the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets, which supports the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, the regulator of the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain. The Authority's functions are set out mainly in the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989, the Competition Act 1998 and the Utilities Act 2000. In this note, the functions of the Authority under all the relevant Acts are, for simplicity, described as the functions of Ofgem.

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