The Office of Fair Trading says it has dealt with hundreds of complaints about Isle of Man Energy.

Head of OFT John Peet said: ‘It’s a significant number of complaints and wide range of issues.’

He said the customer complaints had been sent in batches of 10-12 but their number was slowing down.

Mr Peet said: ‘We don’t appear to be getting any new issues. And to be fair they have resolved a significant amount of the complaints we have passed on.’

He said the number of complaints had run into the ‘low hundreds rather than thousands’.

‘It’s a significant number but they have over 23,000 customers so that is a lot of bills a year,’ he said.

Isle of Man Energy – formerly Manx Gas – has blamed the issues on ‘teething problems’ with its billing system, which was upgraded in October.

Chief executive Jo Cox has apologised for errors that have appeared on gas bills.

The firm has been asked to audit all customer accounts to check for errors.

The OFT has warned Isle of Man Energy that enforcement action will follow if billing issues are not resolved in a timely fashion. It has been involved in collating and passing on customer complaints to the utility since January.

Mr Peet said the main issue had been customers not getting any bills.

Isle of Man Examiner, January 31, 2023

‘If a customer has not had a bill for six months and then suddenly gets one for £800-900 – that could be very upsetting and shocking, particularly if someone goes overdrawn as a result,’ said Mr Peet.

Other issues are wrong amounts being taken out on direct debit and bills stating an actual reading when it isn’t.

Mr Peet said under the direct debit guarantee you can contact the bank and get the money back if the wrong amount has been taken out or you didn’t know it would be taken out. ‘One thing this has taught us is that customers must check their bills,’ he said.

Enforcement takes time but people have been experiencing problems now,’ he said. ‘If somebody is particularly vulnerable we will escalate the issue.’

Parent company Island Energy Group announced in February that eight jobs would be lost in the Isle of Man and Guernsey as part of a restructure.

Isle of Man Energy recently restricted its reception opening hours to between 11am and 2.30pm weekdays, saying it wants to prioritise telephone and email inquiries.

Mr Peet said customers had been getting back to the OFT if complaints hadn’t been resolved or only part-resolved.

But he said it would be helpful if customers could inform them if a complaint had been resolved so they didn’t have to chase people up.

Gas prices peaked at 22.21p per unit – almost treble what they were in September 2021 – but have since fallen following a regulator’s review, to 16.67p in November and then to 13.98p last month.