Our retail compliance work aims to promote a culture where energy suppliers put consumers first and meet their obligations, helping to increase trust and engagement in the retail energy market. Achieving and maintaining high levels of fair treatment and good customer service is central to our role.
How we monitor compliance
We actively monitor supplier compliance with our rules. We have several sources of intelligence to help us do this effectively, including:
- routinely collecting information from energy suppliers, such as information on the level and nature of complaints they receive. We strongly encourage supplier self-reporting;
- working closely with Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Energy Ombudsman to identify systemic issues and emerging trends;
- conducting targeted consumer research (including surveys) and monitoring wider consumer sentiment on social media; and
- reviewing information from whistleblowers within the industry.
We assess the intelligence we receive and use it to inform our compliance engagement with suppliers.
How we promote compliance
Wherever possible we try to prevent harm to consumers before it happens. We do this in several ways, including by:
- assigning a dedicated account manager to most suppliers, to provide a clear point of contact between suppliers and the Ofgem retail compliance team;
- engaging with new suppliers to ensure they are aware of their regulatory obligations to customers, and working closely with existing suppliers to get to know their business, including site visits and regular telephone contact;
- publishing resources to explain what we expect from suppliers, including guides to the supply licences;
- publicising ongoing compliance work to confirm when Ofgem is aware of an issue and is working with a supplier to resolve it; and
- publicising the outcomes of completed compliance work. This includes individual compliance Decision Notices and the twice-yearly Retail Compliance and Enforcement Report, which provides a round-up of our compliance activities over the preceding six months.
We publicise compliance activities (where appropriate) in the expectation that suppliers will not only consider the lessons, but will also review and, where necessary, improve their own policies and practices. Links to a selection of compliance publications from the last two years are set out below.
When non-compliance occurs
We expect suppliers to tell us about issues that arise and why they have happened. We also expect them to show, within a reasonable timeline, how they are putting things right and how they will ensure it doesn’t happen again. We are more likely to seek to resolve matters through compliance engagement when suppliers self-report.
Where potential breaches are serious or indicate repeated instances of non-compliance, or where a supplier is unwilling or unable to co-operate with us to put things right, we are more likely to open an enforcement investigation.