Commission for Energy Regulation Energy Customers Team Customer Charter

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1 Commission for Energy Regulation Energy Customers Team Customer Charter 1

2 Energy Customers Team Customer Charter Introduction The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is Ireland s independent energy regulator. The CER is responsible for the economic regulation of Ireland's electricity and gas sectors, with a particular focus on customer protection. The CER is also Ireland s safety regulator for petroleum and natural gas undertakings, gas installers and electrical contractors, where the focus in on protecting life and property. The Energy Customers Team, within the Commission, is responsible for providing an independent complaints resolution service, monitoring the way in which suppliers operate and also setting minimum guidelines for suppliers to follow in relation to set aspects of their business. Within the Commission the Energy Customers Team (ECT) is also the first point of contact for domestic and small business customers either directly or via the website. The CER is committed to the provision of a high quality service to all natural gas and electricity customers contacting the Energy Customers Team. This Customer Charter sets out the service standards that the Energy Customers Team will operate to when providing that service. 2

3 Mission Statement The core values of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) Energy Customers Team (ECT) are to operate in a way which: Our Customers o is fair, non-discriminatory and balanced; o is open and transparent; and o delivers to the highest levels of professionalism and integrity. The Commission set up the Energy Customers Team to assist domestic and small business customers. This Customer Charter is targeted at this group of customers. Our aims are: to educate natural gas and electricity customers in relation to the role of the Commission for Energy Regulation; to ensure that there is a high standard of protection for final customers in their dealings with licensed energy companies; to promote energy customer empowerment through accessible customer information; to provide an independent complaint resolution service, which is easily accessible, transparent, fair, independent and simple, for energy customers with unresolved complaints against their supplier or network operator; to examine all complaints received in a fair, non-discriminatory, balanced and unbiased manner; 3

4 to answer queries, questions and requests for information in a prompt and timely manner; to provide all correspondence and published documents, whether in hard or electronic copy, in line with Universal Design 1 criteria such that it is accessible to the widest number of customers; to review the number and type of complaints received from energy customers and make recommendations, where appropriate, to the Commission in relation to trends identified to ensure continuous improvement in the area of consumer protection; and to ensure the ECT web site at is updated with current relevant information. Contacting the Energy Customers Team The Commission is committed to providing a helpful, courteous, user friendly and effective service to all customers contacting us. We will respect the principles of equality and the diversity of those using the Energy Customers service. We aim to provide a service to our customers that upholds their rights to equal treatment. Contact may be made with the ECT by: to phone to or writing to: The Energy Customers Team, 1 Universal design refers to the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size or disability. (Disability Act, 2005) 4

5 P.O. Box Dublin 24 The ECT website Information is also available for energy customers on the ECT website. This site provides energy customers with background knowledge about the energy industry, lists of suppliers of both electricity and natural gas, their Codes of Practice and links to their websites, answers to frequently asked questions, reports and publications for energy customers and safety information. Accessibility The Commission is committed to providing information using clear and simple language. The use of technical/ official terms and jargon will be kept to a minimum. The Commission will make every effort to communicate with customers who may have different requirements in a way that is suitable to the customer s needs. Séirbhís Trí Ghaeilge [Service Through Irish] Déanfaidh an Coimisiún gach iarracht freastal ar chustaiméirí ar mian leo a ngnó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. The Commission will make every effort to accommodate customers who wish to conduct their business through Irish. Telephone Callers Any person who contacts the ECT will be treated equally and in a way, which is polite, considerate, helpful and effective. The ECT staff member will always identify themselves, deal with the query immediately if possible 5

6 and call back within the timeframe specified, in the original call, should the answer to the query require some research. Responding to customers Initial s and letters will be acknowledged within 3 working days of being received; our phone lines on number will be attended, each working day, from Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm, if a customer cannot get through on the phone they will be forwarded to voice mail; if you contact us by telephone, we will answer promptly, in a helpful and courteous manner. If all our operatives are busy, or unable to take your call, you will be diverted to a voice mail; we will endeavour to return all calls by close of business on the next working day; we aim to respond to customer queries and information requests within 10 working days; the length of time for complaint resolution is dependent on the complexity of the complaint and the requirement for a full investigation; we will provide our decision, in relation to the complaint, in writing to the customer; and the ECT web-site will be maintained in an up-to-date manner in order to provide current information to energy customers. 6

7 Please Note Staff of the Commission are not obliged to take offensive or abusive calls. In the event that a person demonstrates this behaviour our staff have been instructed to terminate the phone call. ECT Service Commitment for Complaint Handling The remit of the ECT includes the resolution of energy customer complaints, which have completed their supplier or network complaint process and remain unresolved. Depending on the nature of your complaint, it will be handled in one of two ways. 1. If your complaint relates to a policy matter or a decision of the Commission in relation to a regulatory matter we will acknowledge your complaint within 3 working days of receipt and we will endeavour to issue a substantive response within 15 working days. 2. If your complaint relates to a specific problem you have experienced in relating to the supply of your natural gas or electricity or your account and this requires investigation it may take up to 5 working days to acknowledge your complaint. This is because we need to contact your supplier or network operator to verify that you have completed their complaints handling process. The Commission can only examine complaints that remain unresolved after the customer has completed their supplier s or network operator s complaint process. This means that if you have not completed the appropriate complaints handling process with your supplier or network operator, we will refer you back to them. If you have contacted us by telephone in relation to a complaint, that is unresolved with your supplier or network operator, we will send you a complaint form to complete and return to us. Formal complaints made to the Commission regarding a supplier or network 7

8 operator are only taken in writing. Once we have verified that your complaint has completed the appropriate process we will acknowledge it and issue you with a unique complaint reference number. We will also request a report from your supplier or network operator regarding the issues you have forwarded for investigation. When we receive the report, from your supplier or network operator, we will forward it to you for consideration. You will be given an opportunity to comment on the report before we issue a proposed decision on your complaint. Once we have received your comments on the proposed decision, we will, if necessary, request further information from you and/or your supplier/ network operator prior to issuing a final decision. Once all information has been received, and our investigation is complete, a final decision will be issued to you in writing. The final decision of the ECT is binding on the supplier or network operator, as the case may be, but is not binding on the customer. Due to the nature of the complaints the Commission receives to investigate it is not possible to set a time period for a final decision to be issued; however, the Commission aims to issue final decisions within 4 months of receipt of the customer s completed complaint form. This time frame will most likely be extended where technical issues are involved. How you may help us If you have contacted us with a complaint or information request you will be issued with a unique reference number. Please quote this in all correspondence with the Commission. If you have an unresolved complaint, which you would like the Commission 8

9 to examine, please use our complaint form to set out the details of your complaint and attach copies of any relevant documents. Please be specific in terms of the actions you have taken in relation to your complaint and the outcome you would like from the process. Our complaint form can be found in the complaints section of our website or you may request a complaint form from the Energy Customers Team on Complaints about the ECT If you are unhappy with the quality of customer service that you have received from the Energy Customers Team you may forward your complaint to: Director of Customer Affairs Commission for Energy Regulation Belgard Square North Tallaght Dublin 24 Please set out the specific aspect of our service that you are not satisfied with, in as much detail as possible. All complaints will be dealt with promptly, fairly and impartially. The Commission considers feedback from our service users as an important part of ensuring the quality of our service. Please note: Final decisions of the ECT, relating to customer complaints regarding energy suppliers or network operators, are not subject to appeal to the 9

10 Commission. Confidentiality It is ECT policy to use our best endeavours to hold any confidential information or data provided in confidence to us in compliance with data protection legislation, subject to the Freedom of Information Acts. 10

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