Ofgem wants to know whether a second company should be able to provide dispute resolution services for energy customers.
Currently a single company – Ombudsman Services – arbitrates when domestic or microbusiness customers are in dispute with their energy company. All suppliers have to be part of the scheme and let customers know about it. Ofgem says that would remain the single ‘ombudsman’. However, a second company, Utilities ADR, wants to provide an alternative service for some activities. It currently provides redress schemes in the telecoms, aviation and retail sectors and wants to provide dispute resolution in non-regulated energy home services. That could include activities like boiler repairs.
The new service would be free for consumers at the point of use, and funded on a fee-per-case basis charge levied on the companies. It would provide data to Ofgem alongside Ombudsman Services.
Ofgem says an extra provider would give customers a choice in how they seek redress, but could also potentially confuse consumers who are not clear about the status of the provider.
It has asked for views on whether to certify Utilities ADR. Responses are due by 19 February.