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Network providers may be short-changing customers by over £5bn

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Energy customers have missed out on an estimated £5.1 million in compensation for poor customer service from network providers over the last 3 years, according to new findings from Citizens Advice.

Payments for problems such as power cuts due to bad weather have taken too long or not been made at all by network providers, who run the energy infrastructure. Citizens Advice found that many domestic and small business customers didn’t claim when networks didn’t meet their obligations, losing out on over £5bn, split evenly between gas and electricity providers. £17.2bn was paid out in network compensation.

The charity said people didn’t claim because they didn’t realise they could, or they forgot, or they didn’t meet the 3-month time limit.

Energy network operators have 39 guaranteed standards of service, set by the regulator Ofgem. These cover response times for reconnection after bad weather, how they handle complaints and emergency procedures. Most providers are doing well meeting the standards required, according to the report.

Citizens Advice called for Ofgem to work towards the implementation of automatic compensation across all standards and for the introduction of financial penalties for poor performance. It added that network providers needed to do more to make people aware f the compensation available.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “This money should be in customers’ pockets. We want Ofgem to get tougher with the energy network companies so that customers automatically receive all the compensation they’re entitled to. Guaranteed standards should mean guaranteed compensation. At the very least there should be a system of financial penalties for those energy firms who still don’t proactively pay people what they’re due.”

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