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Switching energy supplier has risen to second place, just behind billing issues, as one of the most common causes of energy complaints.

New figures suggest that switching issues were responsible for 1.7 complaints per 100,000 customers to the Ombudsman in the last quarter of 2018, a year-on-year increase of 14%.

Billing issues made up for 13.21 complaints per 100,000 customers, whilst customer service accounted for 1.69, dropping from second place to become the third largest cause of unresolved complaints.

This means that switching has become the main driver of non-billing complaints for the first time in two years.

With more customers choosing to switch supplier, with 600,000 customers switching last month alone, a 29% increase on March 2018, these complaints could prove to be an expensive problem for energy suppliers.

From the 1st May, an automatic compensation scheme is due to be introduced by Ofgem, requiring suppliers to compensate customers with at least £30 for each switching issue experienced. This compensation also intends to cover erroneous and delayed transfers, along with final bill and credit reimbursement issues. Ofgem have said that the scheme intends to give customers peace of mind, boost confidence in switching and act as a “wake-up call” for suppliers.

March’s switching figures bring the total of supply transfers to 1,451,145 this year, an increase of 12% in comparison to the same period in 2018.

The message to suppliers is that regular switching is the new normal. A customer who has just left you could potentially be a customer again in the future. It’s therefore good business sense to treat switching and off boarding as part of your customer journey and ensure that any complaints are dealt with quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction.

Matthew Vickers, CEO at the Energy Ombudsman