Guidelines for customer complaint handling in Europe


Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — July 7, 2010 – The European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas (ERGEG) has recently released good practice guidelines on customer complaint handling, reporting and classification.

Customer complaints are considered a top level indicator, which can contribute to monitoring markets from a customer perspective and identifying market malfunctioning. The ERGEG guidelines are intended to provide member states and national regulators with input on how to translate the new provisions on customer complaint handling in the 3rd Energy Package into operational modalities.

Under the 3rd Package, which was adopted by the European Union on July 13, 2009, member states are required to set a number of new protections for household customers, in particular with regard to customer complaint handling.

The main recommendations identified by ERGEG are:

  • A single point of contact should deliver, in every country, free information and advice on consumer issues
  • Customers should be provided, on their electricity and gas bills, with the relevant and exhaustive contact information in case they need to complain
  • Customers should be able to choose between various channels to submit a complaint
  • Alternative dispute settlement should be made available for all household customers, preferably without charge or as inexpensively as possible
  • Statutory complaint handling standards for the energy sector should be in place, including written complaint handling procedures and information on an alternative dispute settlement body
  • Redress schemes should be in place to allow compensation in defined cases
  • It should be compulsory for service providers to report data on complaints to the national regulatory authority, when they are asked for it, and
  • The regulatory authority or another third party body having responsibility for customer complaints should provide and publish reports on complaints.

Further the ERGEG proposes the use of a common complaint classification to permit regulatory authorities to make a comparison between service providers’ quality of service performances.