‘Big Six’ still failing energy customers claims consumer watchdog

22nd January 2015

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Customers are still getting a raw deal and being let down by the UK’s main energy suppliers claims the latest Which? energy company satisfaction survey.

The study found suppliers are still falling down on the basics of customer service such as dealing with complaints or ensuring bills are accurate and clear.

The consumer watchdog’s analysis found that the so-called ‘big six’ including British Gas, Npower, SSE, Scottish Power, E.on and EDF, which account for around 90% of the market, can all be found towards the bottom of its survey’s ranks.

For the fourth year running Npower has scored the lowest with just 35%, rating it the worst for its complaint handling and customer service. It is followed by Scottish Power, at 41%, EDF Energy and British Gas, each with 49%, E.ON at 50% and SSE also at 50%.

ScottishPower and Npower both fall well below the industry average of 48%. Spark Energy was the only smaller energy supplier to score as poorly as the Big Six, with a score of 50%.

The top spot has been awarded to Ecotricity with a score of 84%, closely followed by Good Energy, at 82%, Ebico with 81%, Ovo Energy, at 80%, Utility Warehouse at 76% and Flow Energy which scored 73% – all or which are smaller independent providers.

In Which?’s last three annual surveys it has seen smaller suppliers ranked higher than their Big Six counterparts.

The research however shows that the overall customer score for energy companies serving Great Britain has improved from 41% last year to 48% this year, but it said this is still low compared to some other products and sectors that Which? investigates.

The group’s Fix the Big Six campaign is calling for suppliers to up their game to immediately improve the service they provide to help restore damaged customer trust.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “For the fourth year running, smaller suppliers are wiping the floor with the Big Six on customer service.  The large energy firms, which dominate the market, need to up their game as millions of customers deserve better.

“We need the Competition and Markets Authority to propose radical remedies to fix this broken market. Instead of waiting for the outcome of the competition inquiry, companies should make immediate improvements to help restore trust among their long-suffering customers.”

Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, commenting on the survey, said: “These figures are a damning indictment of the big six energy companies and a broken energy market that is failing to meet the needs of consumers. Under David Cameron, millions of consumers are on the receiving end of poor customer service and rip-off energy bills.

“The next Labour government is committed to making big changes in our energy market: freezing energy prices until 2017 so that bills can fall but not rise, and creating a tough new regulator with the power to force energy companies to cut their prices when wholesale costs fall and to strip energy companies of their licences if they repeatedly mistreat customers.”

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