FAQs on complaints and the Ombudsman service

Heat Trust has an agreement with the Ombudsman Services: Energy (the Energy Ombudsman) that ensures customers on heat networks registered with Heat Trust can refer their complaint to the Energy Ombudsman if they are unhappy with how their heat supplier has managed their complaint.

Ombudsman Services is an independent organisation and an accredited Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider. They are also the Ombudsman for the gas and electricity market. Read more information on the Energy Ombudsman.
Registered Participants of Heat Trust are required to have in place a complaints procedure which they must make available to customers. Your heat supplier is required to tell you:
• how to contact the heat supplier with a complaint;
• the information required to register a complaint;
• the steps the heat supplier will take to resolve the complaint and an indicative timescale; and
• next steps if a resolution cannot be agreed, including how to access the Energy Ombudsman
Heat Trust has also produced a customer information sheet on how to make a complaint to your supplier and how to access the Energy Ombudsman.
The independent complaints handling service is provided by the Energy Ombudsman through an agreement with Heat Trust. In this agreement, the Energy Ombudsman will investigate complaints from customers on heat networks registered with Heat Trust.

Complaints are investigated in line with the Energy Ombudsman’s Terms of Reference.

The Energy Ombudsman is a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider and is the same Ombudsman used in the gas and electricity market.
To complain to the Ombudsman you must contact them directly
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 0330 440 1624
Fax: 0330 440 1625
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
Website : www.ombudsman-services.org/complain-now-energy.html
Ombudsman Services: Energy
PO Box 966
Warrington
WA4 9DF
You will be asked to provide details of your complaint and they will determine whether or not your complaint is ready to be investigated.
The Ombudsman has the power to investigate complaints where the supplier has:
• failed to comply with their obligations under the Heat Trust Scheme, for example billing errors;
• treated you unfairly in relation to other customers in similar circumstances;
• been discourteous or unprofessional towards you;
• unreasonably delayed or failed to take action in its dealings with you;
• given you wrong or misleading information.
In order to be eligible to bring a complaint against a supplier you must have been, at the time the subject matter of the Complaint arose:
• a heat customer with a valid and effective supply agreement with the supplier,
• connected to the Heat Network of the supplier (or would have been so but for an act or omission of the supplier); and
• a customer of a heat network that is registered with the Heat Trust Scheme.
For further information please review the Ombudsman Terms of Reference available here
The Ombudsman will not investigate complaints which relate to:

• commercial decisions made by an energy company about whether to provide a product or service or the terms under which they may be provided. For example, the Ombudsman cannot help with price increases;
• issues which are considered to be malicious or unjustified;
• problems that are being dealt with by the courts;
• historic problems which are outside of the Ombudsman time limits. These include complaints about matters which you were aware of before the date when your supplier joined the Heat Trust Scheme.
For further information please review the Ombudsman Terms of Reference available here
You will not be charged for this service. All costs will be recovered from your heat supplier.
Some cases are complex and the investigation may be lengthy, while others are simple and are dealt with quickly. As a guide, the average complaint takes about six to twelve weeks to be resolved.
Yes. Someone else can complain as long you send written authorisation to the Ombudsman. Anyone may act on your behalf, for example it may be a member of your family, a friend, a solicitor or a volunteer from a body like the Citizens Advice Bureau. Where a representative is nominated the Ombudsman will communicate with the representative as if they were you.
The Ombudsman will make a decision they believe to be just and fair, taking all the circumstances into consideration. The Ombudsman will then write to all parties concerned with their decision and any award/remedy. The Ombudsman will explain their reasons for making the decision and set out timescales within which a remedy/award is due.
If you accept the Ombudsman’s decision it will become binding on your heat supplier. If you do not reply to the decision within the specified period or choose not to accept the Ombudsman’s decision then the decision will not be binding on your supplier.
For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in the Heat Trust Scheme shall limit your right to take proceedings against your supplier in the courts of England and Wales, should the Ombudsman’s Decision not be binding on the heat supplier.
If it is determined that your heat supplier has made a mistake or treated you unfairly, a remedy or award will be made. The award or remedy will seek to put you to the position you would have been in had the mistake not occurred.
Ombudsman Services may undertake one or more of the following resolutions
a. an apology;
b. an explanation of what went wrong;
c. a practical action to correct the problem; or
d. a financial award of up to £10,000 (inclusive of VAT).
No award or remedy will be made against you.
The Ombudsman will always try to achieve a resolution which is acceptable to both sides, taking account of all available evidence. If, after a resolution is proposed, either party feels that there is an error in fact or has new evidence which was not previously available, it may be submitted to the Ombudsman for review. The Ombudsman will then check to see if the outcome is affected by this new information. A final binding decision will then be issued.
If you are part of a Heat Trust registered scheme and you are unhappy with the way in which your complaint has been dealt with by your supplier you can refer your complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. You must do this within 12 months of the date you first gave notice of your complaint to your supplier. The Ombudsman has discretion, however, to accept a complaint made outside of these time limits if satisfied that there are exceptional reasons to justify the delay.
Your heating supplier should issue you with a written communication, known as a Deadlock Letter, within eight weeks of you initially registering your complaint. This letter sets out your supplier’s final position on the complaint. If you have not been issued with this letter after 8 weeks, you can refer your complaint to the Ombudsman.
The Heat Trust Scheme uses an independent complaints handling service provided by the Energy Ombudsman. This service has the power to both investigate complaints and enforce decisions resulting from an investigation. We believe it is important for this investigation service to be independent of Heat Trust.
When a heat supplier registers with the Heat Trust Scheme, they are required to sign a contract with the Energy Ombudsman. This contract is known as a Deed-Poll and is enforceable in court, by the customer or the Ombudsman, in relation to any decision the Ombudsman makes (provided that the customer accepts the Ombudsman’s decision).
Customers should apply directly to the Ombudsman. As with gas and electricity suppliers, we require heat suppliers to respond to complaints within eight weeks of when the complaint was made. If after eight weeks the complaint is not resolved or the customer remains unhappy they can refer their complaint directly to the independent Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman can investigate complaints from customers who are served by a heat network that is registered with Heat Trust.