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Money doesn’t always buy you the best energy supplier, warns Citizens Advice

31 March 2021

Ahead of Ofgem’s price cap increase, the latest edition of the Citizens Advice star rating - which ranks domestic energy suppliers on customer service - reveals that money does not always buy good service.

Citizens Advice analysis shows expensive doesn’t always mean good and cheap doesn’t always mean bad. Of the 20 cheapest deals with energy suppliers, only five tariffs are with suppliers in the bottom third of the star rating table, whereas 10 tariffs are with suppliers in the top third. (1)

With the energy price cap set to increase by £96 to £1,138 from tomorrow for default tariff customers, the charity is encouraging people to consider switching suppliers to get a better deal. Doing so could save an average household up to £200 a year and secure a supplier with better customer service.

The latest star rating (covering customer service scores for October-December 2020) reveals that Orbit Energy, Symbio, Utilita, PFP Energy and ENSTROGA are the poorest performers. Meanwhile, Igloo Energy, M&S Energy, Outfox the Market, Octopus Energy and Co-Operative Energy come out on top.

Citizens Advice research shows that nearly a quarter of energy customers - equivalent to over six million households - are worried they’ll struggle to pay their energy bills because of the pandemic. With bigger winter bills arriving in the coming weeks for many customers, it’s critical that people are able to easily access support from their supplier. The charity is calling on poor performers in the star rating table to improve their customer service - including tackling billing errors and difficulty in contacting suppliers. 

Alistair Cromwell, Acting Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“At a time when so many people are facing job losses and financial trouble, it’s unacceptable that energy bills are another source of stress. With the rise in the energy price cap, many will have to pay more and rightly expect a decent service. Suppliers must step up to give their customers what they deserve.

“Everyone should consider whether they are getting value for money from their supplier - paying more doesn’t always mean you will receive a better service. Don’t put up with it if it’s not good enough. Shop around if you can.”

‘My energy bill was £3,000 too much but the firm ignored me until I put in a formal complaint’

Dad-of-two Yukching started receiving high energy bills when the family moved home in May last year, but his energy company didn’t respond when he tried to question the amounts. 

He said: “In October, I got a bill for £3,000 too much. I contacted the Citizens Advice consumer service and they helped me put in a formal complaint. The bill was sorted and everything was okay. 

“Unbelievably, in January this year, another bill came for £650. I was so shocked. I have been contacting the company since January and no one has called me back or replied to my email.  

“I’m so frustrated at the amount of time I’ve spent chasing, and nothing has been done. I thought it had been resolved.”

Supplier

Rank

Rating for October to December 2020

Stars

Igloo Energy

1

4.40

M&S Energy

2

4.40

Outfox The Market

3

4.25

Co-Operative Energy

4

4.15

Octopus Energy

5

4.15

GoTo Energy

6

4.06

green.

7

4.05

EDF Energy

8

4.00

Affect Energy

9

3.85

Zebra Power

10

3.75

Avro

11

3.50

So Energy

12

3.45

E (Gas and Electricity)

13

3.44

Utility Warehouse

14

3.20

British Gas

15

3.20

Ovo Energy

16

3.10

Together Energy

17

3.10

Bulb Energy

18

2.95

Boost Power

19

2.88

Pure Planet

20

2.85

Nabuh Energy

21

2.85

People's Energy Company

22

2.80

SSE

23

2.80

ScottishPower

24

2.70

Good Energy

25

2.55

Shell Energy

26

2.55

Utility Point

27

2.50

Ecotricity

28

2.40

E.ON Energy

29

2.35

ESB Energy

30

2.35

ENSTROGA

31

2.20

PFP Energy

32

2.10

Utilita

33

1.85

Symbio

34

1.55

Orbit Energy

35

1.50

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice analysis using data provided by Comparison Technologies. Citizens Advice recorded the 20 cheapest tariffs from suppliers each day between 1-23 March 2021. It then counted the number of times a supplier in the top and bottom third of the star rating table was listed as one of the cheapest suppliers on each day. 10 of those that appeared in the cheapest deals are from suppliers in the top third of the star rating table, while five are from suppliers in the bottom third.
  2. Citizens Advice star rating (October - December 2020) 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.
  3. Citizens Advice found that the average cost of the 10 cheapest tariffs was £900 on 23 March 2021, which is a £142 saving compared to the current cap. From 1 April this will increase to an average saving of £238.  
  4. Citizens Advice (in conjunction with Ofgem) uses a quarterly survey to monitor domestic consumers’ perceptions about the quality of service in the energy market: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications-and-updates/consumer-perceptions-energy-market-q4-2020. The latest wave of this research (Q4 2020) found that 23% of energy bill-payers - equivalent to 6.2 million households - expect to struggle to pay their energy bills as a result of the pandemic. Research completed by Accent Research in Nov/Dec 2020, using  a mixed-mode survey of 3,209 domestic energy bill-payers in Great Britain (GB).

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

  7. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.

  8. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.

  9. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.

  10. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk

  11. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.

  12. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

  13. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.