Too many energy firms struggling to deliver good customer service, says Citizens Advice
Category : Consumer Issues
Friday 28 June 2019
Ten energy companies are failing to achieve even half marks (two out of five stars) in the latest customer service league table from Citizens Advice.
That’s a quarter of the firms included in the table.
The energy star rating assesses a wide range of customer service indicators, including numbers of complaints, call waiting times, and how easy it is to switch.
The latest figures come on the eve of new regulations for firms who want to set up as energy suppliers coming into force at the start of next month (July 5th.)
Citizens Advice, the official consumer watchdog for energy, says these tighter rules should protect customers in the future. However, too many existing companies are still struggling to provide a decent level of customer service.
The charity says lax licensing regulations led to a wave of new companies entering the market.
Some of these new suppliers offer great service, and they make up four of the top five on our rating. But others were unprepared for the demands of the market and shifts in the costs of wholesale energy.
Ten domestic suppliers have gone bust in the last 18 months. Three of these were in the first three months of this year alone – affecting nearly 300,000 people.
Star rating data:
The results (for the period January to March 2019) includes 39 suppliers with 99% market coverage.
Citizens Advice dealt with nearly 1,000 calls about problems with the five suppliers at the bottom of the table from January to March this year. There were a number of recurring issues:
Sudden increases in direct debits – including money being taken after customers had closed their accounts
Problems with prepayment meters – including some people being switched to this system without warning
Inaccurate bills – including problems with broken meters and smart meters
Failure to return credit refunds
Difficulty in contacting the supplier to resolve issues.
At the top of the table:
SSE – one of the ‘Big Six’ – tops the table
Two newer suppliers, Affect Energy and Breeze Energy, are second and third
Nine firms score at least four stars
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Today’s rankings continue to show a number of firms struggling to deliver acceptable standards of customer service.
“The new rules which come into force next month will oversee new firms setting up as energy suppliers to make sure they’re fully prepared.
“But there also need to be stricter ongoing requirements and monitoring to tackle existing companies who are not serving their customers well.
“The energy supply market is not the free-for-all it once was. But there is still a big gap between those firms who provide excellent customer service, and a significant proportion who are letting consumers down.”
Citizens Advice price comparison site
The energy star rating is available online here. To support customers to save money on their energy bills, Citizens Advice, the official consumer champion for energy, also provides an independent price comparison site.
Rating for January to March 2019
Green Network Energy
Shell Energy (formerly First Utility)
E (Gas and Electricity)
Robin Hood Energy
Green Star Energy
Outfox The Market