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Citizen Advice launches new energy complaints tool for small businesses

20 January 2017

E.ON delivers best performance in charity’s first ever energy suppliers complaints league table for small business customers

Citizens Advice is today launching a brand new league table allowing millions of small business owners to compare how well energy suppliers are handling their complaints.

The new ranking - which will be published quarterly - measures how effectively energy suppliers are dealing with complaints from small business customers across Great Britain.   It follows the charity’s established quarterly complaints league table for household energy customers - first launched in 2012.

E.ON takes first place in the new ranking for its handling of business customers complaints - with a complaints ratio of 21.1 per 10,000 customers. SSE comes second with a complaints ratio of 29.0 per 10,000 customers.

Extra Energy delivers the worst complaints handling performance - receiving a ratio of 1225.4 per 10,000 customers.

Common problems reported by Extra Energy business customers included not being billed for long periods of time and then getting hit with large catch-up bills. In many cases this is  followed by swift action to recover debts, without taking into account billing errors or customers’ ability to repay.

Citizens Advice says small business owners can use the independent comparison tool to make informed choices about their gas and electricity supply - which could help them avoid delays and expense sorting out problems.  

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said: “Small businesses are a linchpin of the UK economy and it’s vital they have the support they need to thrive.

“Small business owners depend on the smooth running of essential services - such as gas and electricity - to run and grow their firms. If things go wrong with energy suppliers it can cause delays and financial stress, so it's crucial problems are sorted out swiftly and effectively.  

“Citizens Advice’s new complaints league table will give business owners an independent tool to judge which energy suppliers are dealing with customer issues well.

“Energy suppliers should look at how they can drive up customer service standards across the board for their business customers.”

Business Minister Margot James said: “There are more than a million businesses across Britain with fewer than ten staff making a great contribution to our growing economy. All businesses need energy and deserve to have their complaints taken seriously by suppliers if things go wrong.

“This new tool from Citizens Advice shines a light on bad practice and will help small business owners make informed decisions when choosing who to get their energy from.”

The new league table ranks the performance of the 15 largest firms providing energy to 10,000 or more small non-domestic customers. These business customers are defined as those who have 10 or fewer staff or a turnover of under £1.7 million.

Suppliers’ scores are calculated based on the seriousness of the complaint against them and how long it took to resolve. Firms with lower complaints ratios are better at resolving complaints than those with high scores.

July - September 2016 Rank

Supplier

July - September 2016 Ratio

1

E.ON Energy

21.1

2

SSE

29.0

3

CNG

34.2

4

Utility Warehouse

59.4

5

EDF Energy

68.9

6

Total Gas and Power

74.7

7

British Gas Business

93.2

8

Opus Energy

95.6

9

Dual Energy

96.2

10

Gazprom

110.0

11

Haven Power

111.8

12

Scottish Power

152.3

13

Npower

169.2

14

Business Energy Solutions (BES)

411.4

15

Extra Energy

1225.4


Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer body for energy customers and helps people - including small business customers - with thousands of energy issues every year. The charity publishes data on energy supplier performance to help consumers make informed choices on their energy supply.

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice non-domestic league table ranks the 15 largest energy firms with more than 10,000 non-domestic customers. The data is based on the number of non-domestic consumers that have contacted an independent organisation for advice or support with an energy problem. Complaints made to the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and Ombudsman Services: Energy are weighted differently to reflect the severity of the complaint. Weightings have been allocated to reflect the seriousness of the complaint and the time and effort spent by the consumer to get their problem resolved. The weightings in the model place greater emphasis on situations where the consumer has had to repeatedly contact their supplier, or another agency, because the company has failed to deal with their problem. The measures used in the model are outlined in the methodology.
  2. The table’s definition of a non-domestic consumer uses Ofgem’s micro-business consumer criteria.
  3. To get energy advice online, visit citizensadvice.org.uk/energy or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers. The service offers free, impartial advice about your rights, and the complaints process, and it can also refer energy consumers to bodies that are better able to assist if that’s needed
  4. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  5. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  7. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  8. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.