Brussels, 15/06/2016: Members of NEON handled together 92,335 energy-related disputes in 2015, 27.43% more than the previous year, announced today Lewis Shand Smith, President of the National Energy Ombudsmen Network, during a policy session on New Market, New Consumers, New Challenges organised in the framework of the European Sustainable Energy Week 2016.
In total, the Ombudsman Services (GB) handled 67,449 energy-related disputes; the French Médiateur National de l’Energie, 12,319; the Belgian Ombudsdienst voor Energie/Service de Médiation de l’Energie, 4,211; the Catalan Sindic, El defensor de les persones, 1,249 and the Czech Energy Regulatory Office, the newest member of NEON, 7,107.
Even if the total number of complaints handled by all members increased by 27.43% in comparison with the previous year, some members saw a decrease in the number of complaints they handled. (Please follow the links below to see members’ reports)
Acknowledging differences between members, this detailed analysis shows that the majority of complaints deal with invoicing and (e-)billing (47%), customer services, redress and privacy (11%) and provider change/switching (10%).
The previous year, the majority of complaints dealt with invoicing and (e-)billing (38%), payment (19%) and metering (14%) issues.
These figures shall be nuanced with national and regional situations, which vary greatly from one member to another. Hence, problems with invoicing arise mostly in Great Britain (78% of the total of the network’s complaints); and 98% of the issues related to customer services, redress and privacy come from the Ombudsman Services: Energy. The Czech ombudsman is in charge of 42% of the complaints related to provider change/switching. Metering disputes are mainly found in France (45%) and price-tariff issues mostly in Belgium (58%).
Source: NEON 2016
Click here to see the full report.
As of last year, and despite significant differences between Member States, those data show that energy prices and the invoicing process are at the core of end-users daily concerns. Data show that all stakeholders have a responsibility to better enforce energy consumers’ rights. The European Commission should push Member States, regulators and all relevant stakeholders to take appropriate actions to ensure consumers the right to access to an independent body for out-of-course settlement, in the framework of the Alternative Dispute Resolution directive. Tailored, high quality information and access to the best customer services have also to become number one priorities if we are to put consumers at the centre and give them trust in the market.
Furthermore, as stated in the European Parliament own-initiative resolution on Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers (2015/2323(INI)), if we are to achieve a well-functioning energy market benefiting citizens, stakeholders need to improve the transparency and clarity of both bills and contracts in order to aid interpretability and comparison.
Yet, the internal energy market is not achieved, and essential and ambitious actions from all involved parties are required to empower consumers. This is why NEON calls for the implementation of an Energy Consumer Code, to engage and protect consumers, enrolling ombudsmen and other ADR bodies, as well as policy-makers, regulators, energy providers and other relevant stakeholders to promote shared values and best practice and build a common framework to protect end consumers.
NEON also presented practical implementation elements of the Consumer Code during its EUSEW policy session on New Market, New Consumers, New Challenges.
Lewis Shand Smith also announced that NEON is adapting its statutes to enable associated members join the network. This will lead to a better and more comprehensive view of the energy market. A greater number of ADR bodies will be able to encourage the protection and empowerment of energy consumers and to promote ADR in Europe in compliance with the recommendations of the European Commission and EU Directives.
NEON also aims to facilitate the exchange of information, experience and good practices between members, and is willing to provide assistance and training in the setup of ADR processes. Following Article 16.3 of the ADR directive, Member States should encourage ADR entities operating in the energy sector to become part of NEON.
To learn more about the various possibilities to become a member of NEON and get a copy of the full report, please contact the Secretariat.
To consult NEON members’ annual reports, please follow the links below:
- Belgium - Ombudsdienst voor Energie/Service de Médiation de l’Energie
- Catalonia - Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya
- Czech Republic - Energetický regulační úřad
- France – Le Médiateur national de l’énergie
- Great Britain – Ombudsman Services