Ombudsman reports record complaints

The Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) received a record number of complaints during the 2008-09 year.

EWOV’s 2009 annual report showed 38,533 cases, up 52 per cent from the previous year, the majority of which were in the energy retail sector.

While complaints about several energy retailers increased significantly, one large energy company drove the biggest increase in EWOV complaints, as it continued to recover from a major systems upgrade in 2007-08.

“We had to pick and resolve far too many complaints that this company, and others, should have resolved,” ombudsman Fiona McLeod said.

“Too many customers told us their company didn’t respond to their concerns, or took a long time to respond. Too many said they felt the company wasn’t taking their complaint seriously.”

According to the report, customers contacting EWOV reported trying at least twice to resolve with the company without success, had delayed responses or felt their complaint wasn’t being taken seriously.

Mrs McLeod had a clear message for the companies participating in the EWOV scheme.

“Take action now, to integrate the learnings from 2008-09 and previous years into your business. When planning major internal changes, do not be tempted to underestimate the potential effects on your customers and your staff.”

Currently, there are 48 energy companies and 19 water companies in the EWOV scheme.