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Energy company customer service plummets at “worst possible time”, says Citizens Advice

8 April 2022

Energy suppliers’ customer service standards are plummeting as bills soar. This is according to the latest Citizens Advice energy star rating table released today.

The star rating table shows energy suppliers’ customer service is the worst it’s been on average since 2017. It comes a week on from the rise in the energy price cap - which has seen most people’s bills increase by almost £700 a year.

The latest edition of the star rating covers customer service between October-December 2021, when a number of suppliers collapsed. Despite this challenging context, Citizens Advice is concerned this is part of a trend of declining standards at a time when people particularly need support from their energy companies to cope with record bills and a cost-of-living crisis.

Declining standards across the board

The rating reveals a drop in customer service across the board, with even the best performing suppliers scoring less than four out of five stars. Until last year, the best supplier had always scored more than four stars. 

The highest score is now just 3.85 compared to 3.95 in the previous quarter (June to September 2021) and 4.40 between October and December 2020 - which included a national lockdown - a 12.5% fall. Suppliers at the top of the table are M&S Energy, EDF Energy, Octopus Energy, Affect Energy and So Energy.

The worst performing suppliers are Utilita, Boost Power, Ecotricity, Good Energy and Ovo. The lowest score among these dropped to 1.70 compared to 2.10 in the previous quarter (June to September 2021) - a 19% fall.

Call waiting times are on the rise

One of the main drivers of the low scores is the rise in call waiting times. The average call wait time is now more than five minutes (340 seconds), compared to around four minutes (246 seconds) during the same period in the previous year. Customers with the poorest suppliers now face wait times of around 15 minutes. Email response times have also become slightly worse.

People could miss out on vital support

If people are struggling to pay their energy bills, suppliers are responsible for providing support, such as affordable payment plans. But Citizens Advice is concerned that many could be missing out on help they’re entitled to because they’re unable to easily contact their supplier. 

The charity is calling for Ofgem to introduce a ‘consumer duty’ to ensure suppliers provide a service specifically designed to meet the needs of all customers. A similar approach is being adopted by the Financial Conduct Authority to upgrade consumer protection. It should make companies directly responsible for the outcomes their customers experience. This includes  making it easy to contact companies and get support when needed.

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“With millions of people struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living soars, it’s more important than ever that people can turn to their energy company for support. The drop in customer service standards comes at the worst time possible. 

“It’s Ofgem’s job to make sure companies are delivering a good service. But the current system isn’t working. A consumer duty focused on making sure customers get good outcomes is what’s needed. With bills expected to soar again come October, there’s no time to waste.”

Richard’s story - “This is not a life at all, I'm just struggling and barely existing”

Richard, 52, is retired due to health problems and lives alone in a one-bedroom bungalow. He relies on an income of £800 a month from his pension and Universal Credit. He’s having to cut back on both food and heating to keep up with the rising cost of living, but has been unable to contact his energy supplier for support. 

He said: “Once I pay all my bills I have nothing left. My income is fixed but food, gas and electricity have risen substantially. With my diabetes I'm supposed to eat four times a day. I can't afford to feed myself more than once a day and as a result I've had a few hypos and my blood sugar is generally low. Over the past year I've had to rely on food banks.

“I called my supplier many times to ask about the Warm Home Discount but it's always an automated service or a long hold time. They want you to go online to do everything. After many calls last September I finally managed to ask them, but they said I needed to be with them for six months to be eligible. 

Richard moved recently and hasn’t put the heating on - ”I’m too scared because of the cost. This is not a life at all, I'm just struggling and barely existing.”



Rating for October to December 2021


M&S Energy



EDF Energy



Octopus Energy



Affect Energy



So Energy



Co-Operative Energy



Bulb Energy



Utility Warehouse



E (Gas and Electricity)



Shell Energy



Outfox The Market



E.ON Energy






British Gas






Ovo Energy



Good Energy






Boost Power






Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice star rating (October to December 2021) compares energy suppliers' customer service by looking at information from a number of sources. Information about complaints comes from the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and Energy Ombudsman. Citizens Advice uses its legal powers to request information on customer service, billing and switching from suppliers. Information on customer guarantees comes from Energy UK. Energy suppliers are given a score out of 5 for each category. 1 is poor and 5 is excellent (a zero score is given if a supplier does not provide the necessary data). Suppliers then receive an overall star rating out of 5. Not all categories are equal with some counting more towards the final score than others. Further information on the methodology can be found here

  2. On average 68.2% of customer emails were responded to within two working days at the end of 2021, compared to 69.6% in the same period of the previous year.   

  3. The following energy suppliers have failed since October 2021 and have been removed from the star rating table: Pure Planet,, Zebra Power, Orbit Energy, and Together Energy.

  4. Read more about the consumer duty in our background paper: Raising the Bar
  5. Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  6. Our network of charities offers impartial advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. 

  7. We helped 2.4 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2020-21. And we had 40 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  8. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,600 service outlets across England and Wales.

  9. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and postal markets. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.

  10. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for Welsh language speakers.