900,000 elderly energy customers 'suffering in silence'

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Almost a million older customers are suffering poor customer service at the hands of energy suppliers but not complaining about it, research has found.

The main reason those aged 65 do not speak out is that they either hate to make a fuss or worry that they will feel intimidated if they do complain.

And of those who have spoken out, many said they found the process challenging; either having to complain several times before anything was done or were simply ignored.

Billing was the most common issue, followed by problems with supply issues and poor customer service.

The worrying findings were released by Ombudsman Services and charity Age UK.

The pair have urged older customers to be more proactive and not tolerate poor service from their supplier.

Age UK external affairs adviser Mervyn Kohler said: "The energy sector has not covered itself in glory for treating customers fairly in recent years. Yet the process of making a complaint, and getting help to resolve that complaint, is getting easier.

"We are all urged to be savvy shoppers, and we all must demand good service as customers.

"The key point is to keep meticulous records of every phone call, letter or email; whom you spoke to, and what action was promised. The energy company has eight weeks to resolve the issue, after which Ombudsman Services can intervene - at no cost to the complainant. It is an important service which all older people should be telling their friends all about."

Ombudsman Services has also published an online guide to help older customers in making a complaint, which can be accessed on the following url: http://www.ombudsman-services.org/later-in-life.

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900,000 elderly energy customers 'suffering in silence'

Figures from charity Age UK show that 29% of those over 60 feel uncertain or negative about their current financial situation - with millions facing poverty and hardship.

Even though saving for retirement is not much fun, the message is therefore that having to rely on dwindling state benefits in retirement is even less so.

To avoid ending up in this situation, adviser Hargreaves Lansdown recommends saving a proportion of your salary equal to half your age at the time of starting a pension.

In other words, if you are 30 when you start a pension, you should put in 15% throughout your working life. If you start at 24, saving 12% of your salary a year should produce a similar return.

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