EDF to pay £3m for mishandling complaints from vulnerable customers

EDF Energy failed to put in place appropriate procedures to properly receive, record and process all customers’ complaints

EDF has been ordered to pay out £3 million to benefit “vulnerable customers” after an investigation by the energy industry watchdog Ofgem found that the big six supplier had breached complaint handling rules.

The payout is the latest in a series of punishments meted out to the dominant energy suppliers and came just a day after Labour promised to strip any provider of its operating licence if it mistreated customers by repeatedly breaking the rules.

The inquiry into the French state-owned utility came after the company recorded an increase of more than 30 per cent in the levels of complaints during the introduction of a new IT system in 2011.

“EDF Energy failed to have sufficiently robust processes in place when they introduced the new IT system and this led to the unacceptable handling of complaints,” said Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner with responsibility for enforcement.

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 handling rules. Many customers experienced unacceptably high call waiting times, with many deciding to hang up due to the company encountering a number of unexpected technical problems, Ofgem said.

When customers did get through, there was evidence that the supplier failed to record all the required details for the complaints received. These 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 some time after they were actually received, Ofgem said.

Beatrice Bigois, EDF Energy’s managing director of customers, said: “Despite our best efforts and extensive planning to manage this transition in 2011 without impacting our customers, we recognize that for a period of time the service to our customers was not up to the standards they deserve. We apologise to those customers who were impacted during the period.”

The £3 million will be paid to vulnerable customers through the Citizens Advice ‘Energy Best Deal Extra’ scheme and the Plymouth Citizen Advice Bureau’s Debt Helpline.

Last October, Scottish Power agreed to pay £8.5 million to its customers after an investigation by Ofgem found it gave misleading information during sales. In March, the regulator found that the big six collectively owed more than £400 million to 3.5 million former customers who have switched supplier or moved house in the previous six years. It demanded that they make sure the money is returned.

On Thursday, Labour threw down the gauntlet to the Government on energy policy for the second time by pledging to strip any supplier of their licence to operate if they persistently mistreat their customers.

Almost a year after party leader Ed Miliband shocked the industry by announcing a two-year price freeze under a Labour government, Caroline Flint, the shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, announced new powers for the regulator which will enable it to revoke energy companies' licences where there are repeated instances of the most serious and deliberate breaches of their licence conditions.

EDF’s payout follow’s Ofgem’s announcement in June that a full competition investigation would be held into the big six suppliers after their retail profits quadrupled to £1.1bn in three years. The 18-month probe could result in one or more of the groups being broken up.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?