Friday 16 November 2018

The number of heat customers benefitting from free independent complaint resolution and minimum customer service standards has more than doubled, from 15,000 customers in 2015 to over 35,000 customers today.

The information is reported in Heat Trust’s second Annual Report which was published this week. Heat Trust is the stakeholder-led customer protection scheme that sets consistent customer service standards for the heat network sector, building on standards in the gas and electricity markets.

More than 54 heat networks are now registered with Heat Trust and an additional 18 applications are in the registration process. All large energy service companies with residential networks have now registered one or more heat networks with the scheme.

“It is imperative that customers on heat networks have an assurance in the service they will receive and that if these standards aren’t met, then customers are able to access independent complaint resolution”, said Head of Scheme Bindi Patel.

“The number of sites which have voluntarily been registered with Heat Trust continues to grow and this means we are able to provide more and more customers with this assurance, and in doing so drive up industry standards.”

The report reveals that billing and customer service are the most frequent issues raised by customers. Over the year:

  • 3,550 customer complaints were recorded of which 92% were resolved within the monitoring period, representing a customer to complaint ratio of 11%. By comparison, the regulated market has a complaint ratio of 20% per 100,000 customers.
  • 206 customers contacted the Energy Ombudsman and 116 cases were within the Energy Ombudsman’s terms of reference. Over half of complaints (55%) were upheld by the Energy Ombudsman.
  • Most complaints (61%) were about back-billing or billing. A further 27% were due to customer service.
  • A goodwill payment was awarded in 62 cases. A total of £4,888 was awarded in 2017, these ranged from £5 to £629. The average award for complaints in 2017 was £78.84. A further 11 cases were received in 2017 and closed in 2018. The total goodwill payments for these were £669.

“While independent Government research has clearly demonstrated that customers on sites registered with Heat Trust receive more comprehensive billing information than non-registered sites, our data shows that heat network operators can make further improvements by ensuring bills are accurate and clear,” said Ms Patel.

This year, for the first time Heat Trust has also reported on outages on heat networks, finding:

  • A total of 41 planned interruptions and 469 unplanned Interruptions were recorded over the year.
  • Energy centre failure was the cause of 48% of unplanned customer outages.
  • 23% of unplanned interruptions affected between 500 – 1000 customers.

“Heat Trust will continue to work with our Registered Participants to build an evidence base of the performance of heat networks. Our aim is to build a reliable picture of the heat network market and highlight where improvements can be made to ensure customer received a reliable and efficient service,” said Ms Patel.