Irish consumers need a confidence boost when it comes to complaining to their energy or telecoms provider
- Six in ten telecoms customers (59%) and three in ten energy customers (31%) have raised complaints with their provider in the past – billing issues and not getting the service they paid for are amongst the most common concerns
- Only four in ten energy and telecoms customers (38%) who previously complained felt fully confident about doing so
- Majority of complaints are resolved within two weeks, although a quarter of energy (25%) and telecoms (24%) customers have had to wait three weeks or more
- Voting with their feet: 40% of energy and 46% of broadband customers whose complaints were not resolved say they switched to a new supplier
- With suppliers working hard to keep customers satisfied, Switcher.ie says it’s time for consumers to feel confident about exercising their consumer rights.
While many consumers have complained to their energy or telecoms providers in the past, only four in ten (38%) said they felt fully confident doing so, according to new research from independent price comparison and switching service, Switcher.ie. The majority of telecoms customers (59%) and one-third of energy customers (31%) have had cause for complaint in the past.
When it comes to telecoms, consumers’ most common cause for complaint is a problem with the service, or not getting the service they paid for (57%). And around a third have complained about poor customer service (35%) and mischarging or problems with their bill (31%). These issues are the main ones escalated to ComReg too, as outlined in its latest Consumer Line Statistics report.
Meanwhile, cost – as always – remains a thorny issue for telecoms customers, with three in ten (30%) saying they have complained following a price increase and two in ten (22%) complaining due to poor value for money.
In relation to energy, almost half of consumers’ complaints (48%) were raised due to billing problems or mischarging, while over a third (37%) followed a price increase. Three in ten (29%) have complained due to poor customer service, while a quarter (24%) have flagged concerns about a problem or not getting the service they paid for. And poor value for money sparked just under a quarter (22%) of complaints.
The findings suggest that there is every reason to raise such concerns with household suppliers, with the majority of complainants finding the companies helpful and responsive. In fact, almost six in ten said that their complaint was rectified, with telecoms providers (58%) performing marginally better than energy suppliers (57%). The cause of a further 24% of energy complaints and 20% of telecoms complaints were explained by the relevant provider, but not rectified. Only 19% of energy complainants and 22% of telecoms complainants said the reason behind their complaint was neither explained nor rectified, or the issue was outstanding.
Providers are generally prompt in terms of dealing with complaints – six in ten complaints to energy suppliers (57%) and telecoms providers (61%) were resolved within a week. However, a quarter of energy (25%) and telecoms (24%) customers were waiting three weeks or more for their issue to be resolved, possibly due to their complaint being more complex.
Customers are not afraid to vote with their feet if they feel their issue has not been properly resolved. Almost half (48%) of telecoms complainants whose complaints were not resolved said they switched to a new supplier, while four in ten (40%) energy complainants with unresolved complaints switched away. A decent number of customers also escalated their complaint either within the supplier or to a regulatory body, like the Commission for Regulation of Utilities or ComReg, with 37% of energy complainants and 28% of telecoms complainants doing so.
However, it’s unfortunate to see that only four in ten of us feel fully confident when it comes to complaining, and it’s also concerning that 26% of energy complainants and 21% of broadband complainants say they didn’t feel there was any action they could take following an unresolved complaint. It’s possible more needs to be done to educate consumers on the options available to them if a complaint is not resolved to their satisfaction.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “In the course of any customer/provider relationship, it’s not unusual to see service or billing issues arising from time-to-time, so it’s concerning that so many consumers need a confidence boost when it comes to contacting their provider to complain.
“All providers have a complaints process in place, so we would urge any consumers who have an issue to talk to their supplier, as it’s very likely that their concern may be easily addressed. You can contact most providers by phone, email or post, and many now have online help centres now too, so choose whichever method works best for you and get the ball rolling. When you contact your provider, outline your complaint clearly, and be sure to include contact details so that they can update you on the status of your complaint.
“It’s encouraging to see that the majority of complaints are resolved by providers within a week. However, for consumers whose complaints seem to be taking a long time to be resolved, or are not resolved satisfactorily, it’s important that they know there are other avenues open to them. They should contact the relevant regulatory body – be that the CRU or ComReg – but only after they’ve exhausted the complaints process with their provider first.
“If you explore all avenues in relation to your complaint and it’s still not resolved to your satisfaction, consider whether moving to a new provider might be the best option. You could get new features, better service and a nice introductory discount, potentially saving you hundreds of Euro too.”
For more information, visit Switcher.ie
For further information please contact:
Maeve McLaughlin, Switcher.ie on 01 517 5922/087 133 2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Images for use are available on Flickr here.
Notes to editors
Research was carried out for Switcher.ie by Coyne Research, involving 1,000 online interviews with Irish adults aged 18+years. The total sample is representative of the national population in Ireland.
 In response to the question: ”Have you ever complained to either of the following providers? Energy Supplier (Gas and/or electricity), Telecoms Provider (broadband, home phone, mobile phone and/or TV)”
 In response to the question: ”If yes, why did you complain? Price Increase, Poor customer service, Mischarging/problem with my bill, Problem with the service/not getting the service I paid for, Poor value for money, Other.”
 In response to the question: ”When making a complaint to your energy provider, how confident do you feel doing so? Rate from 1-5, 1 being not confident, and 5 being very confident”
 In response to the question: “How long did it take to get your issue resolved? Same day, within a week, within 1-2 weeks, within 3-4 weeks, within 1-2 months, within 3-6 months, over 6 months.”
 In response to the question: “As your issue was not rectified, did you take any of the following actions? Escalated the complaint with the supplier, Escalated complaint to a regulatory body, Switched to a new supplier, I didn’t feel there was any action I could take, I knew I could take further action but chose not to, I am still considering taking further action.”
 Source: ComReg – Consumer Line Statistics Q2 2017
 In response to the question: “How was your complaint resolved by your energy provider? The issue was rectified, The issue was not rectified but the cause was explained to me, The issue was not rectified and the cause was not explained to me, The issue is outstanding.”
 Source: ComReg – Complaining to your service provider
 Source – Commission for Regulation of Utilities – How to Register a Complaint
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