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EDF Energy pays out £200k after complaints breach

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3rd Jun 2010
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EDF Energy has donated £200,000 to consumer advice charities after a probe by the energy regulator found that it did not handle customer complaints correctly.

Ofgem found that the utility had breached its rules for recording customer complaints between October 2008 and March 2009, but decided not to fine the company up to 10% of global turnover because it made a voluntary payment to the Money Advice Trust and Citizens Advice-run scheme called the Energy Best Deal.

The former assists people with debt problems and the latter ensures that they are receiving the correct state benefits and are on the most appropriate energy tariffs. Fines usually go to the Treasury, which can then offer grants to fund different initiatives.

Ofgem introduced its new regulations in 2008 in a bid to improve the customer service offered by utilities companies. Consumers should now only need to call their supplier once in disputes over bills or meter readings and the company is obliged to record such interactions properly.

If problems are not solved within eight weeks to the customer’s satisfaction, they have the right to report the situation to the independent Energy Ombudsman.

In EDF’s case, Ofgem launched an investigation into its activities following an audit. It found that the provider had failed to record all complaints properly, but EDF said that it had taken immediate action to rectify the situation, which included setting up staff workshops and changing its training programme.

"When Ofgem first identified in January 2009 that the number of complaints we recorded was lower than expected, we immediately instigated a review and developed a robust action plan to resolve the matter," the company told the BBC.

Such action led to "an almost immediate and sustained improvement", which meant that the levels of recorded complaints were now consistent with the rest of the industry.

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