Publication of Energy Supplier Audits for 2019/20 – Complaints Handling

09 September 2020

Belfast city centre

Today the Utility Regulator publishes its report on the annual audit of compliance for electricity and gas suppliers. The subject matter relates to Complaints handling.

The handling of customer complaints is an important aspect of a supplier’s interface with their customers, of effective supplier operation and consumer protection. The UR’s role is to ensure suppliers adopt best practice processes and procedures when dealing with customer complaints and meet their Code of Practice requirements.

Suppliers’ complaints data is collected via our Retail Energy Market Monitoring (REMM) data and accurate and high quality information is essential to the UR to enable us to monitor the energy retail market effectively and protect and inform consumers by increasing transparency. Furthermore, ensuring suppliers are adhering to the prescribed minimum standards set by the UR for complaints handling provides the UR, and consumers themselves, with assurance that consumer’s complaints are being dealt with in a fair, consistent and timely manner.

Following engagement with all suppliers, and having agreed an audit program with the auditors, site visits took place over a number of months (January 2020 - March 2020). Thank you to all suppliers for co-operating fully with the audit process.

The auditors provided an overall opinion for the complaint’s handling system at each supplier, based on their audit findings. In arriving at their overall audit opinion for each supplier, the auditors considered the findings in each of the four areas tested: (i) accuracy and completeness of complaint’s REMM data, (ii) compliance with the minimum standards for complaint handling set by the UR, (iii) compliance with suppliers’ Code of Practice on complaint handling; and (iv) whether the audit recommendations from the previous 2018 audit on complaints had been addressed.

Following completion of the audit work, the UR met with each supplier to share and discuss their individual audit results including any further observations or recommendations made by the auditors. Where applicable, REMM data was resubmitted for any discrepancies that were identified during the audit. Any issues highlighted in relation to suppliers’ complaint handling or compliance with the relevant Code of Practice were addressed accordingly and remains under review.

We plan to publish the complaints data in the Annual Transparency Report. The UR will complete another set of supplier audits (via site visits) in late autumn 2020.