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Worst customer service on record from energy companies, says Citizens Advice

1 July 2022
  • Charity calls for urgent improvements before expected bill hikes this autumn

Energy companies’ customer service standards have fallen to a new record low. This is according to the latest Citizens Advice star rating table published today. 

The table rates customer service between January to March this year. Amid rising call waiting times and customers saying they can’t get hold of their supplier, the average score (2.8 stars) is the lowest on record.

Standards have plummeted since June 2021 when the energy market started to collapse, with millions of customers shifted to new suppliers as a result of their own provider failing.

Citizens Advice is warning the decline is happening at a time when people need good customer service the most. Between January and March 2022, the charity’s Consumer Service helpline saw more than 70,000 cases related to energy issues - a 63% increase on the same period the previous year.

Even at the top of the table, standards are spiralling down. The highest score is now just 3.6 stars, compared to 3.85 in the previous quarter and 4.65 at the same time in the previous year.

Families at risk of being left in the dark

Energy suppliers are obliged to help people who can’t afford their bills, but Citizens Advice warns they’ve been struggling to cope with increased demand over the past year. 

The charity is particularly worried about people on prepayment meters, who are at risk of having no gas or electricity if they can’t afford to top up.

Citizens Advice is calling on energy companies to urgently improve processes and ensure staff are able to support customers who are struggling. It warns that without swift action to tackle poor customer service, standards will only worsen when bills are expected to hike again this winter, as even more people will need support. 

Companies slower to answer the phone and respond to emails

The average time to wait on the phone to speak to an energy supplier is now around six and a half minutes (391 seconds), compared to just under four minutes (224 seconds) during the same period in the previous year. Customers of one supplier face an average call waiting time of more than 16 minutes.

Companies are also getting slower to respond to emails. On average, suppliers responded to 62% of emails within two working days, compared to 66% during the same period in 2021. 

Graham’s story: ‘I’m so stressed and I'm seriously considering giving up my home’

Graham cannot work due to a number of health conditions. He receives Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). He lives alone and struggled to afford £50-a-month energy bills. Now his bills have more than tripled, Graham’s extremely worried about how he will cope:

“I’ve asked my supplier to take the payment on a certain day to make sure there’s money in my account, but they take it whenever they want. When I try calling them it's so hard to get through to someone. And if I do, they basically say there's nothing they can do. 

“There have been a few times that they’ve left me with no money. This has meant I’ve either had to contact my bank to get the money back or go to the food bank.

“I try to use as little gas and electric as possible. I rarely cook, I don't use the lights unless I absolutely need to. Because of my health, there can be a week or longer that I go without using any energy as I can't get out of bed.

“In May my fixed energy plan ended and my supplier said my new direct debit will be £180 per month. How on earth am I expected to pay that? I’m so stressed and I'm seriously considering giving up my home and moving into a shared property as I just can't afford the cost of energy.”

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

“At a time when customers need all the support they can get, it’s worrying to see service performance is the worst on record. This leaves people frustrated and in the dark at the end of the phone.

“For many families on low incomes, life will get even harder when the price cap goes up again in October, despite government support. 

“We recognise call centre staff are working incredibly hard to answer as many calls as possible, but energy companies must do better.  This should include improving support services for people struggling the most. Ofgem should make sure suppliers are following the rules, and take action where needed.”



Rating for January to March 2022


EDF Energy



Outfox The Market



Bulb Energy



Affect Energy



Co-Operative Energy



Octopus Energy



E (Gas and Electricity)



Utility Warehouse



M&S Energy






Shell Energy



Good Energy



British Gas



So Energy



SSE Energy Services*



Boost Power



E.ON Energy






Ovo Energy







  • Information on what to do if you’re struggling with your energy bills is available on the Citizens Advice website

  • * The SSE Energy Services brand is owned and operated by Ovo Energy

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice star rating (January to March 2022) 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. Citizens Advice launched the star rating in December 2016. From Q3 2016 to Q3 2017 the star rating measured performance on bills and ease of contact based on customer surveys. From Q3 2017 onwards these were measured based on data submitted by suppliers. Additional changes were made to the methodology in Q4 2020, including adding new customer service metrics. The methodology, including all changes, was developed in consultation with suppliers and other stakeholders. 

  3. Between January and March 2022 there were 70,894 contacts to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about energy issues, compared to 43,472 for the same period in 2021 (a 63% increase)

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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. 

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